Leiden Undergraduate Journal for Interdisciplinary Research
Executive Board Editor in Chief Abigail Montalvo Senior Editors Maurice Kirschbaum Sophie Smith Editors Elise Le Brun Erik Owusu Janaan Farhat Lara Soliman Maddy Malowney Melis Kirtilli Nicolai Santaniello Sara Ameziane Hassani Creative Director Pablo Serrano Medina
Few would doubt that we are at a turning point globally. Many regions of the world today enjoy the highest standard of living in history, predicated on a sustained financial and human investment in scientific and technological discovery. People today appear on the whole more understanding of inclusivity and human rights, and are more socially and digitally interdependent than ever before. And yet the challenges we face — everything from climate change and the loss of biodiversity to inequality, poverty, and internecine ideological, religious and ethnic conflicts — are also increasingly more complex in nature. Unavoidably, perhaps, the solution to these are multifaceted, and are likely to be found as much at the transnational level as they are within the local and national realm. In many respects
interconnectedness. They themselves come from different backgrounds, their views informed by a diversity of experiences and disciplinary approaches. In completing their studies at Leiden, however, they share in common both a fascination for how globalisation affects all four corners of the globe and a willingness to explore, learn from, and sometimes question, their own and others’ cultures, ideas, and norms. The research our students produce is therefore highly relevant to the contemporary setting; it can help to inform our understanding of the recent and ancient past, problematise the present, and offer a unique perspective on some of the possible advances of tomorrow. It is against this backdrop that we are delighted to introduce the first edition of Medusa. In the first instance, this student-led journal will provide a platform for our undergraduates to share their academic work beyond its normal readership. But it will not stop there. Part of Medusa’s uniqueness derives from its diversity-rich nature as a research initiative that connects students from International Studies, International Relations and Organisations, Urban Studies, Security Studies, and Leiden University College (LUC). The journal actively invites work that proffers a critical questioning of monodisciplinary approaches, encouraging a migration of concepts, theories, techniques, and practices between fields. Featuring articles situated within different programmes and disciplines converging in studying global and local processes is itself rare. We hope, however, that this elicits a conversation among students and faculty members alike that contributes to a
critical reflection on the approaches, questions, and methods familiar to them. Indeed, as lecturers we are perennially impressed by the insights offered by those we teach. The quality of student research at our university deserves not only to be read by society at large, but also to be engaged with by the academic community and, in particular, the faculty of which we are part. The twelve articles in this edition, the first in a biannual series, investigate a range of processes
taking place globally. These include tensions between regional and
(intra)national politics, international trade and global finance, gendered politics and identity formation, military deployment and humanitarian crises. Meanwhile, they reflect diverse
sociolinguistics, textual analysis, political
economy, human rights, gender, and
(post)conflict studies. The range and depth of the articles is testament to the vibrancy of Leidenâ€™s student community and showcases the innovative and original work of our undergraduates. In turn, the authors show us that, however complicated or sensitive the issues, they are more than willing to formulate the sort of questions, and start to provide some of the necessary answers, needed to tackle the challenges we face. This is, of course, only the beginning in establishing Medusa as a truly diverse platform. In these early days, we are working closely with the students heading the journal to secure greater representation across programmes regarding article submissions, the editorial board, and guidance from faculty members. We extend our gratitude to the students who worked tirelessly to put together this first edition, and to all those who submitted such high-quality papers. We encourage students from all programmes to keep an eye out for future calls for papers, and look forward to reading more excellent research.
Dr MarĂa Gabriela Palacio LudeĂąa University Lecturer, International Studies Dr Matthew Broad University Lecturer, International Studies Josh Walmsley Lecturer, International Relations & Organisations
I’m thrilled to introduce you to the inaugural issue of Medusa, the Leiden Undergraduate Journal for Interdisciplinary Research. Our first edition marks the beginning of Medusa’s mission to provide a platform where undergraduate students of Leiden University can publish, share and disseminate their work amongst their peers and faculty members. For our first edition, we asked students to submit essays reflective of their best ideas. This edition is the collection of those ideas; ideas which stretch across disciplines ranging from Linguistics to Political Economy. With the dedication of our editors, we were able to produce a collection of works representative of dialogue between students of different disciplines,
interdisciplinarity at its most basic level, “integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines,” we believe the variety of essays included here strive towards fulfilling that definition. Sometimes academia can appear increasingly regimented, with scholars of different disciplines utilizing solely subject-specific approaches when addressing important issues. While discussion may occur within the discipline, research rarely reaches across boundaries to meet challenges and new insights from other areas. Through the founding of this journal, students of BA International Studies, BSc International Relations and Organizations, BSc Security Studies, BA Urban Studies, and Leiden University College were able to work together in the process of selecting, editing, and discussing undergraduate work. Not only did this allow for fruitful discussion, students actively engaged in interdisciplinary discussion, seeing previous barriers to dialogue break down. We would like to give a special thank you to the support of our stakeholders, Dr. Maria Gabriela Palacio Ludeña, Josh Walmsley (MSc), and Dr. Matthew Broad for their valuable insights as we embarked on the endeavor to establish Leiden University’s first undergraduate journal. Additionally, we would like to thank our project leaders, Students as Partners (StAP) for their financial and administrative support.
Finally, I thank you, the reader, for your interest in learning what exists beyond your chosen discipline. May this journal serve as a reminder that dialogue, above all, is the most important vehicle for enabling academic discovery. Stay curious.
Abigail Montalvo Editor in Chief
The influence of Nigerien Uranium on the French Military Deployment in Mali, 2013 Guido Lanfranchi
The Walls Have Ears: Understanding the Argot of Prisoners
From Here to Timbuktu: The Precarious Precedent of the Al-Mahdi Case for Prosecution of Cultural Heritage Destruction at the International Criminal Court Ida Simonsen
Tayf: A Lyrical Reflection on the Politics of Desire in Cairo
Trading with the Dragon: Latin American-Chinese Relations and the Future of Development Hannah Sanchez Miller
When the Seemingly Private Becomes Political: Evaluating the Political Nature of Modern Spirituality Lilly Felk
â€˜Cash Me Ousside, How Bow Dah?â€™ The Use of African American Vernacular English by Caucasian Teen Danielle Bregoli Oliwia Szalas
Check, Please! A Case Study in Masculinity and Sexuality in Hockey Culture
Who Owns the Right to Water? A Political Economy Analysis of Urban Water Privatization Projects in Ghana Donna Marie Mlyneck
The Gendered Politics of Belonging and Nation-Building: Islamic Feminism and the Role of Women in the Egyptian Labor Force during British Rule Tarik Soliman Osman
The Nature of Bureaucrats in the French Civil Service: a Barrier to Reform?
Abstract. This essay attempts to analyze to what extent the French interests in West Africa’s uranium influenced the decision of a rapid military intervention in the Malian conflict in 2013. In order to evaluate France’s present-day approach to Mali, this essay outlines the evolution of France’s African policy over time, focusing on its recent shift towards prevention and multilateralism. Then, a careful analysis of French needs for uranium, compounded by observations on France’s heavy dependence on Nigerien imports of this ore, leads to the hypothesis that uranium played a relevant role in the deployment of Operation Serval. This hypothesis is supported by historical considerations on past French military interventions in Africa, pointing at the inconsistencies between public claims and actual behaviors, as well by an observation of the French government’s willingness to deal directly with security issues related to Nigerien uranium mines. The essay thus concludes that France’s interest in West Africa’s uranium likely played a role in shaping the decision to intervene in Mali in 2013, although this factor shall not be considered as the only one at play in influencing French decisionmakers’ approach. Key words. Uranium, France, Mali, Niger, Intervention
“I took a grave decision on 10th of January to commit French soldiers alongside Malian soldiers. It was the appeal made to me by President Traoré… France stands alongside you, not to serve any particular interest – we have none –, to protect this or that faction, or in favour of this or that Malian party… No, we stand alongside you for the sake of the whole of Mali and for West Africa.” “Mali: Speech by M. François Holland, President of the Republic,” France in the US, 2016.
hen François Hollande, President of the French Republic, pronounced these words in Bamako, Mali, on the 2nd of February 2013, a crowd of local people warmly greeted him. By that time, less than one month after the beginning of
Operation Serval. (Boeke and Schuurman 2015) The French and the Malian forces had already regained control over Northern Mali’s major cities, chasing away the Islamist militias. (France24 2013) There is a wide debate on the rationale that pushed France to quickly deploy a considerable number of troops in Mali: scholars and military analysts point at a number of potential causes, mainly related to economic, geopolitical, and humanitarian issues. (Lecocq 2013, 59-60) The aim of this essay is to analyze in detail one of the possible motivations behind French prompt intervention, namely, the presence of uranium in the areas surrounding Mali. As Baz Lecocq argues, a proper understanding of the Malian conflict requires a broad analysis, which should take into account not only Mali but rather the whole regions of the Sahel and West Africa. (Ibid., 64-67) This essay exploits Lecocq’s approach, although with a relevant addition, that is the inclusion of French domestic policy in the analysis framework. Indeed, accurate scrutiny of the French energy policy, which strongly relies on uranium supplies from West Africa, can provide relevant insights on the attitude of France towards the region, and thus also on the rationale behind Operation Serval. In order to better understand the contemporary French approach to African affairs, this essay will start with a historical description of French foreign policy towards Africa. Then, the attention will move to current circumstances: specifically, France’s dependence on West African uranium will lead to hypothesize that uranium played a role in the French intervention of 2013. To support this thesis, further evidence involving French military deployments in the region will be provided. Lastly, this essay will tackle some of the potential critiques that are likely to arise against the exposed reasoning.
A proper understanding of the recent French intervention in Mali requires an historical analysis of the foreign policy of France towards Africa. Consistently with the political theory of realism, this policy has always been grounded in French national interests, and therefore it has been characterized by a substantial continuity over time. (Sıradağ 2000) However, it is possible to distinguish three different stages, which are strictly related to worldwide historical events. The first stage, described as the colonial period, started in the 17th century when France showed its first interest in Africa (Ibid.). After a period of expansion, France consolidated its power by means of direct rule on the so-called Federation of West Africa, whose territory included much of the area within present-day Mauritania, Niger, and Ivory Coast (Stewart 2015). At the end of World War II, the second period began: after a troubled decolonization process throughout the 1950s, in the early 1960s the French colonialism ultimately collapsed? However, the formal disruption of the colonial system did not substantially affect French policy in the region, since France continued to exercise its power on its “virtual empire” through a neo-colonial strategy. (Gregory 2000, 435) Between the end of decolonization and the early 1990s, France kept its control over the newborn African countries through several bilateral agreements concerning a wide range of matters, such as resources’ supply, economic relations, and military collaborations or interventions. (Hecht 2010, 17-18) The third stage of the French African policy saw the light during the 1990s, specifically after the unfolding of the crises in Rwanda (1994) and Zaire (1997) (Gregory 2000, 439-441). Disastrous management of these crises, together with increasing budgetary constraints, pushed France towards a new type of policy that was characterized by the prevalence of economic interests over politics, and by a significant reduction of the military’s role. (Sıradağ 2000, 110-11; Ibid., 441-442) Although it remained driven by the national interests, contemporary French policy in Africa slightly modified its practices. Indeed, in recent times policy-makers have been increasingly focusing their attention on prevention, that is, tackling potential crises before they escalate, in order to avoid massive interventions in the future. (Gregory 2000, 445447) Moreover, multilateralism has gradually replaced unilateralism; as a result, while in the past France was used to act alone in the francophone African scenario, nowadays the interactions with other countries and with the international community are becoming increasingly frequent. (Ibid., 442-443; Sıradağ 2000, 111-112).
Given the multilateral nature of the French present-day approach to African issues, it is worth to wonder why in early 2013 France promptly intervened by force of arms before the deployment of AFISMA, the UN-sponsored mission that was supposed to be an “Africanled” intervention (UNSC 2012). Several analysts argue that the rapidity of the French intervention could be attributed to economic reasons, among which the presence of uranium in West Africa and the Sahel might have a significant role (Boeke and Schuurman 2015, 106-109). Indeed, the French energy policy is heavily dependent on the uraniumbased production of nuclear energy: in 2012, just before the intervention in Mali, it amounted to 110.9 Mtep, thus contributing for 81% of the total primary energy production (136.1 Mtep). (Cadin et al. 2015, 33) In comparison to other sectors, the energy production from nuclear reactors has been much higher than the one from renewable energies (16.3 Mtep) and oil (1.2 Mtep) (Ibid.). Since 1999, when the last extractions of uranium from French soil took place, France has been massively importing uranium from different suppliers; among them, Niger has always played a major role (OECD NAE and IAEA 2014, 233). Niger is a former French colony in West Africa, located at Mali’s eastern border, and it is reported to own approximately 7% of the world uranium resources (Ibid., 19). The first agreements on uranium supply from Niger to France date back to 1961, just one year after the country’s independence, and in 1974 Nigerien uranium was already a necessary element for the French energy policy (Hecht 2010, 12-15). In 2012, one-third of the uranium imported in France was coming from Niger, and the trend was showing a steady rise with respect to the previous years (OEC n.d.). Moreover, Areva, a French company whose majority is owned by state-related institutions, owns nowadays significant shares of three out of the four mining companies active in Niger. (Agence des Participations de l’État 2015, 53; OECD NAE and IAEA 2014, 337) The provided data highlights French strong dependence on uranium, and especially on uranium from Niger, which is Mali’s eastern neighbor; in the light of this observations, the hypothesis that uranium has fostered the deployment of Operation Serval in early 2013 should at least be considered.
The perfect matching between French needs and Nigerien resources, if considered alone, cannot be a valid argument to support the claim of this essay, that is, that uranium was a relevant factor in influencing the French decision to deploy Operation Serval. However,
there are some other factors that support this thesis. Looking at the past, some historical events have undermined French credibility concerning its justifications behind military interventions in Africa. For example, while in 1964 France intervened in Gabon to restore a regime after a coup d’état, ten years later it did not interfere in Niger when the president was overthrown (Sıradağ 2000, 106; Hecht 2010, 16). This kind of uneven behaviors contributed to fueling a feeling of distrust towards France, thus feeding the present-day diffidence towards its claims of unselfish interventions. Shifting the attention to the contemporary situation, a superficial analysis of French military presence in West Africa shows that the troops are distributed mainly across France’s former colonies (Barral 2014). However, more careful scrutiny highlights that in the last 5 years France has not hesitated to intervene in non-former colonies, such as Libya; this suggests that French interventions are likely to be driven not only by the legacy of the colonial empire but also by other interests, such as economic ones (Erlanger 2011; Al Jazeera 2016). Finally, there are different public statements that provide evidence of the importance of Nigerien uranium for France. For example, an officer of the Nigerien army openly declared that, since 2011, there have been agreements between Niger and France to protect Areva’s mining sites (Reuters 2013). Moreover, a spokeswoman from Areva reported that the company’s security plans have been elaborated in collaboration with the French authorities (Ibid.) From these statements, it can be noted that France, Areva’s major owner, has serious security concerns about uranium mines in Niger, and that it is willing to get directly involved in the management of the relative threats. Since these concerns date back to 2011 when the situation in Mali was still relatively stable, it is likely that the unfolding of the Malian crisis throughout 2012 caused further apprehension among French officials; this worry may have been a relevant reason behind a rapid deployment of troops to protect French economic interests.
Despite the evidence presented above, there are works in literature that support a radically contrasting view. For instance, in a policy brief written in 2013, Tertrais (2013, 1-4) argues that uranium, although still an important resource for the French energy policy, is gradually decreasing in importance for France; therefore, according to him, there is no link between uranium and the deployment of Operation Serval. In this work, Tertrais (Ibid.) focuses on Areva’s uranium supply to French nuclear plants, stating that Nigerien uranium contributes “for no more than 20% of their consumption.” In this analysis, he explicitly
excludes from the calculation a share of imported uranium, namely the one that is in turn exported to other countries. However, the exported uranium represents an economic interest for the trading company, and therefore it should be included in the data provided. When all the imports of uranium are considered, the contribution of Nigerien uranium to the overall French import amounts to 24% in 2011 and 32% in 2012, both the figures being higher than the 20% stated by Tertrais (Ibid.). Moreover, a complete analysis shows an overall increasing trend in the share of uranium from Niger (40% of the overall import both in 2013 and 2014, thus confusing Tertrais’ argument on the “diminishing importance” of Nigerien uranium for France (OEC n.d., 1). It is also worth to note that, since the author does not provide any references in his work, it is impossible for the reader to evaluate the sources’ accuracy and thus to prove the data’s validity. Beyond Tertrais’ inaccurate approach, a much better-structured critique could argue that not only uranium but many factors pushed France to rapidly deploy Operation Serval. (Sıradağ 2000, 106-118; Boeke and Schuurman 2015, 805-807; Gregory 2000, 436; Lecocq 2013, 60; Dowd and Raleigh 2013, 505-507; Stewart 2013, 7-8, 39-45) There is little if any doubt that this argumentation is true. However, it is worth to clarify that the aim of this essay is not to argue that uranium has been the only factor shaping French decisions; rather, this essay argues the decision of quickly deploying Operation Serval has relied on a wide set of rationales, among which the French interest in West African uranium has played a relevant role.
This essay has attempted to analyze to what extent the French interests in West Africa’s uranium influenced the decision of rapid military intervention in the Malian conflict in 2013. In order to evaluate France’s present-day approach to Mali, this essay has described the evolution of French African policy over time, focusing on its recent shift towards prevention and multilateralism. Then, a careful analysis of French needs for uranium, together with France’s heavy dependence on Nigerien imports of this ore, has led to the hypothesis that uranium has played a relevant role in the deployment of Operation Serval. This hypothesis has been supported through historical considerations on French military interventions, pointing at the frequent inconsistencies between public claims and actual behaviors; moreover, statements issued by Nigerien officials and Areva’s personnel have highlighted the remarkable French security concerns about the Nigerien mines, showing France’s willingness to deal directly with these issues. Finally, this essay has tackled in
advance two potential critiques: first, through a complete data analysis, this study has confuted Tertraisâ€™ argument about the decreasing importance of Nigerien uranium for France; lastly, it has been clarified that claiming uraniumâ€™s relevance in Operation Servalâ€™s deployment does not deny the existence of many other potential factors. In the light of the exposed analysis, this essay argues that, among the several rationales behind the deployment of Operation Serval, French interests in West African uranium have played a relevant role. A proper understanding of the underlying dynamics of the Malian conflict is a necessary step towards its resolution. Indeed, in order to conduct effective negotiations, the interests of all the factions should be clear, thus making possible to elaborate solutions acceptable from every actor involved. Therefore, further research on the concealed interests of the other actors, namely the Malian government, the Malian rebels and the Islamists groups, could be integrated with the results of this study, in order to provide a better basis for future negotiations.
Abamako. 2013. “Visite du Président Français au Mali: Les allocutions des presidents Traoré et Hollande.” Youtube Video, 18:19, February 2, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86148H6xTl0. Agence des Participations de l’État. 2015. “Panorama Sectoriel – Énergie 2015.” http://www.economie.gouv.fr/files/files/directions_services/agence-participationsetat/PANORAMA_SECTORIEL_ENERGIE_2015-2016_-_APE.pdf. Al Jazeera. 2016. “Libya: Tripoli condemns French military involvement.” Al Jazeera. July 21, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/libya-tripoli-condemns-french-militaryinvolvement-160721142118151.html. Barral, Véronique. 2014. “Infographie: les forces militaires françaises en Afrique.” RFI. February 17, 2014. Accessed November 20, 2016. http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20140217infographie-mouvements-forces-militaires-francaises-afrique/. Boeke, Sergei, and Bart Schuurman. 2015. "Operation ‘Serval’: A Strategic Analysis of the French Intervention in Mali, 2013–2014." Journal of Strategic Studies 38, no. 6: 801-825. Cadin, Didier et al. 2015. “Bilan énergétique de la France pour 2014.” Commissariat Général au Développement Durable. https://www.statistiques.developpementdurable.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/2018-10/ref-bilan-energie-2014-juillet2015b.pdf Dowd, Caitriona and Clionadh Raleigh. 2013. "The myth of global Islamic terrorism and local conflict in Mali and the Sahel." African affairs 112, no. 448: 498-509. Erlanger, Steve. 2011. “France and Britain Lead military Push on Libya.” New York Times. March 18, 2011. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/world/africa/19europe.html?_r=0. France in the United States. 2013. “Mali: Speech by M. François Holland, President of the Republic.” France in the United States. February 7, 2013. Accessed December 13, 2016. http://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article4310. France24. 2013. “French forces enter last urban Islamist stronghold.” France24. January 30, 2013. Accessed December 13, 2016. http://www.france24.com/en/20130130-frenchtroops-poised-take-kidal-airport-mali.
Gregory, Shaun. 2000. "The French military in Africa: past and present." African Affairs 99, no. 396: 435-448. Hecht, Gabrielle. 2010. "The power of nuclear things." Technology and culture 51, no. 1: 130. Lecocq, Baz. 2013. "Mali: This is only the beginning." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: 59-69. Ministère de la Défense de la République Français. n.d. “Forces prépositionnées.” Accessed December 13, 2016. http://www.defense.gouv.fr/ema/forces-prepositionnees. Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC). n.d. “Where does France import Natural uranium, its compounds, mixtures from? (1995-2014).” Accessed November 20, 2016. http://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/visualize/stacked/hs92/import/fra/show/284410/1995 .2014/. OECD NEA and IAEA. 2014. Uranium 2014: Resources, Production and Demand. NEA No. 7209. Issy-les-Moulineaux: OECD. https://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/pubs/2014/7209uranium-2014.pdf. Reuters. 2013. “France orders special forces to protect Niger uranium: source.” Reuter. January 24, 2013. Accessed November 20, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/usmali-rebels-niger-areva-idUSBRE90N0OD20130124. Sıradağ, Abdurrahim. 2014. "Understanding French Foreign and Security Policy towards Africa: Pragmatism or Altruism." Afro Eurasian Studies: 100-122. Stewart, Dona J. 2013. What is Next for Mali? The Roots of Conflict and Challenges to Stability. Carlisle, PA: U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute. Tertrais, Bruno. 2013. Uranium from Niger: A key resource of diminishing importance for France. Copenhagen: DIIS. United Nations Security Council. 2012. “UNSC Resolution 2085 (2012).” December 20, 2012. Accessed November 20, 2016. http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/2085(2012). World Nuclear Association. n.d. “Nuclear Power in France.” Accessed on November 20, 2016. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/countryprofiles/countries-a-f/france.aspx.
Table 1. Total production of primary energy in France, 2014. Data in Mtep. 1973
Total primary production
production (from nuclear)
Source: Cadin et al. 2015, 33.
Chart 1. French import of Natural uranium, compounds, mixtures (2005-2014). The graph highlights the share Nigerien import on the total value of uranium imports. Data in millions US$.
Source: Observatory for Economic Complexity 2016.
Abstract. Language is an important means of communication that allows individuals form identities. Collectively, these identities merge into a culture that stipulates the norms and values of a community. One such culture is exemplified in prisons, where inmates develop their own method of communication, known as prison argot. Prison argot is a complex linguistic system that represents the prisoner's norms, values and code of ethics, originating from numerous languages and sources. This essay explains the linguistic composition of prison argot by exploring sociolinguistic factors, namely ethnicity, gender, and age, that have influenced this language. It further examines the development of argot in terms of sustaining prison subculture, concluding that prison argot is an inherent part of prison life that helps to create a prisoner identity, social network and dictates how inmates relate to one another within the prison walls. Key words. Prisoner Argot, Language, Sociolinguistic Factors, Prison Subculture
anguage is a means of communication that allows individuals to give and receive information. It transcends the mere use of words and phrases and enables individuals to forge human connections. Humans debate, negotiate, argue, comfort
and teach each other. Based on the words humans use, they form relationships and identities; their manner of speech becomes an integral facet of their self-expression. Humansâ€™ choice of words reflects their identities and the morals ascribed to them. On a larger level, this collective self-expression aids in creating a culture, and the consequent norms and values that follow. This occurs in prisons worldwide as inmates develop their own method of communication as a prison subculture is established and sustained (Einat and Einat 2000, 309). Prison argot can be understood as the lingual framework of inmate subculture. As a special form of language, this lingo reflects the behavioral and moral codes of prisoners (Ibid.). The argot develops in relation to the functions it serves for prisoners and is consequently filled with words that focus on prisoner status, sexual relations, and drugs amongst others (Ibid. 310). Accordingly, this essay attempts to explain the linguistic composition of prison argot by looking at sociolinguistic factors, namely ethnicity, gender, and age, that have influenced this language. Thereafter, it examines the development of argot in terms of sustaining prison subculture.
As it was primarily spoken, prison argot was never intended to be a written language and therefore has few, if any, grammatical rules. The language involves a unique mixture of cant, jargon, and slang (Ellis 2005). This posits prison lingo as undecipherable to noninmates, thus creating a secret language intended for a single social group. Cant, though commonly associated with eighteenth-century London back-alley talk, originated within the interactions of gypsies, thieves, and beggars in the fourteenth century (Mulvey 2010). Intended to confuse any external listeners, cant serves prison argot well. It is considered one of the oldest forms of criminal lingo and still behaves as a starting point for today's prison argot. Buckley Hall prison in Rochdale, England experienced a baffling situation when inmates partially learned Shakespearean thievesâ€™ cant in order to smuggle contraband and narcotics into prison (Tozer 2009). Jargon and slang offer further avenues for the development of prison argot. Legal lingo penetrates prison walls and abbreviations such as GBH (grievous bodily harm) and ASBO (anti-social behavior order) have been incorporated into prisoner vocabulary. Ellis
(2005) notes that “regional regulations may initiate shorthand jargon for such disciplinary procedures: at the Papago Unit, majors and minors (infraction is implied) suggest the degree of the prisoner’s breach of the rules.” Prisoner lexicon may also manipulate institutional jargon to mock figures of authority, such as calling a guard J.P. (Justice of the Peace) or the term police becoming an acronym for Pack Of Lice Infested Cannabis Eaters (Ibid.; Looser 2001, 37). Slang also heavily contributes to prison argot. Evanescent and modern, it expresses “transient nicknames and street jokes of the day” (Hotten 1860, 7). Slang, though considered vulgar, is one of the most dynamic and creative manners of speech; new terminology emerges every five years and is intermittently absorbed into the standard language through sheer popularity. Prison slang often overlaps with modern teen slang. For instance, the phrase ‘buffing up’ means to exercise and build muscle in prison and external society alike. More examples include ‘real talk’, ‘chow’, and ‘fresh meat’ (Prison Writers 2010).
Ethnicity plays a significant role in the development of prison argot. The majority of penal institutions in Western countries officially operate in English, but there is a pervasive influence of foreign languages. Thieves’ cant, a source of prison lingo, has roots in Romani. The language of gypsies has contributed many words that remain prevalent in prisoner lexicon. For example, the word ‘shiv’- used to describe any makeshift knife- is derived from the Romani word chivomengro. Similarly, a ‘nark,’ or an informant, is from the Romani word nāk meaning nose (Ellis 2005). Seemingly archaic words continue to circulate in prison environments while becoming obsolete in general use, thus leading to the formation of an esoteric argot that is difficult to penetrate by non-inmates (Ibid.). Minority culture remains a strong influence as African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and Spanish have greatly contributed to recent additions in American prison lingo. Southern American prisons, due to geographical proximity, see a greater abundance of Spanish slang present in inmate argot (Ibid.). Prison terminology glossaries from states such as New Mexico and California record words of Spanish origin like La Raza, La Eme, and Placa being commonly used (Prison Writers 2010). On the other hand, Northern American prison facilities lean more towards AAVE slang usage. To give an example, the word ‘fish’ has
homosexual connotations in the African American prison context but is commonly used to describe new inmates in South American facilities (Ellis, 2005). Ethnicity also determines the usage of certain words within prison argot. Latin American prison gang members often use words such as Carnal (brother), Esquina (corner), Llavero (key holder) and Jale (criminal work) at a much higher frequency than other prisoners (Rodarte, 2015). Non-latino inmates using this terminology could be perceived as a form of mockery and may incite violence. Likewise, particular lingo is selectively employed by the Aryan Brotherhood (white supremacist group) gang in American prisons. Indicative of their neo-nazi ideology, the gang vernacular deliberately involves German words such as brief (letter), and bruder (brother) (Rodarte 2015). Particular words such as ‘Pops’ and ‘Wood’ are exclusively used to refer to Caucasian inmates (Ibid.). Within the American context, the racial disparity in incarceration rates is crucial to mention. According to research by Sakala (2014), Black Americans make up forty per cent of the incarcerated population, despite being only nineteen per cent of the overall American population. In a similar fashion, Hispanic individuals are also present in prisons in disproportionately high numbers (Ibid.). This skewed number of minority incarceration is closely related to and possibly contributes to the influx of foreign languages in prison lingo.
While the argot employed by male and female inmates does bear some similarity, a genderbased difference does exist in prison subculture. Incarcerated women are more likely to be serving sentences for property or drug offenses, whereas men are convicted for violent crimes at a much higher frequency. Consequently, there is a high volume of violent offenders in male prisons; leading to a hostile environment where “eruptions of violence are much more prevalent, as is rivalry between inmates” (Looser 2001, 41). This increased aggression is strongly reflected in the argot. A study of New Zealand prison slang revealed extensive terminology relating to assault, gang conflict, and weapons in male penal institutions, whereas this lingo was largely absent in women’s prisons (Ibid., 43). Words such as ‘blade’, ‘boob cosh’, ‘gang bang’, and ‘ping over’, which prominently featured in men’s argot, proved to be inactive in female prison facilities (Ibid.). Women’s prisons introduce a new dimension of argot regarding feminine issues and lesbian relationships. Discussion on menstruation includes the phrases ‘party pack’ (sanitary napkins and tampons), ‘red flag’, and ‘aunt flo’ (ongoing menstruation) (Ibid., 30). The depiction of homosexual interactions appears to be predominantly positive and is
characterized by witty phrases: such as ‘cunt castle’, ‘tongue-fu’, and ‘lickerland’ (Ibid., 44). On the other hand, despite the constant homosexual activity, male prisons involved a slight degree of homophobia. The lexicon used for gay men was derogatory, and often mentioned feces. Looser (1999, 44) states that the threat of sexual assault leads male inmates to negatively label homosexuals, in effort to not appear fearful, lest they become ‘easy prey.’ Though consistent across genders, some aspects of prison life are labelled differently by the sexes. “Each group assigns their own stereotypically ‘male’ or ‘female’ label to the referent” (Looser 2001, 45). To give an instance, the rectum, when used to smuggle prohibited materials, was referred to as a ‘Cadillac’, ‘man purse’, and ‘boot’ by men (Ibid.). Women, on the other hand, referred to the vagina as a ‘handbag’, or as a ‘glory hole’ (Ibid.). Gender differences in recidivism have an impact on prison lexicon. Habitual criminality in females is rare, whereas a higher proportion of male offenders are career criminals (Ibid., 27). Hence, male prisoners often face repeated incarceration and longer prison exposure: leading to greater familiarity with prison argot than their female counterparts. Another consequence of career criminality is an existing social network with connections inside penal institutions. This enables fast internalization and usage of the argot, as the convicted is introduced to the subculture by his known associates. Looser (Ibid., 42) advances this notion by stating that “men’s close social networks also give rise to language creation and maintenance, especially in the case of the vernacular.” In contrast, female inmates are less engaged with the prison subculture and less likely to form strong criminal social ties. Consequently, the argot, though still present in female institutions, is not as prevalent a force as in male institutions.
There is little research regarding the effect of age on prison argot as this topic has only recently begun to intrigue to scholars. However, slight distinctions in speech are perceptible when comparing prisoners of different ages. Older inmates created terminology with rhyming slang origins. Words such as ‘Al Capone’ (telephone), ‘trouble and strife’ (wife), and ‘tea-leaf’ (thief) were predominantly used by inmates above forty years of age. Pop culture references also permeated prison lingo; ‘Bobo and Marley’, inspired Bob Marley and his plentiful consumption of cannabis, became a popular reference to marijuana in the 1970s (Ibid., 22). Moreover, older inmates were also more reserved in their use of argot, and some did not use the slang terminology to refer to senior
prison officials, in order to appear more respectful (Ibid.). By contrast, the younger generations appear to be more inventive; they develop terminology from existing prison lingo. For example, the common practice of calling a guard a ‘screw’ (originated by screwing keys into a lock) has introduced the new term ‘four-by-two’ as a rhyming alternative. Drug-related lingo has also massively expanded, which could possibly be linked to the recent increase in incarceration rates for drug offenses. This created a new generation of drug inclined inmates. To give an instance, ‘Binky’, a word normally associated with children’s pacifiers, now refers to a homemade syringe made of an eye dropper, a guitar string and a pen shaft (Ferranti 2015). A study of inmates’ jargon in 1999 reported that “out of five hundred [collected] terms there were at least seventy-five words for drugs and drug-related terms” (Looser 1999, 26). The language also accounts for nuanced differences in drug quality, size and origin. Marijuana, for example, has over twenty words to account for its different forms: ‘cabbage’ refers to bad quality cannabis leaf, whereas ‘tuchie’ indicates synthetic marijuana, and ‘jaunt’ means a single joint (Ferranti, 2015). The need for these distinctions, created by the younger generation, emphasizes the change in prison argot as well as the new drug-centric focus of modern prison subculture.
While social class and income are normally important sociolinguistic factors worthy of mention, they are difficult to isolate here. Prisons worldwide are disproportionately filled with those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. The independent effect of a factor -such as social class- on prison argot is ambiguous due to the close association of social class, income, and low education. This is further complicated by the fact that, in countries like the United States, minorities are disproportionately present in the lower socio-economic classes of society (Williams, Priest and Anderson 2016). Thus, an issue of multicollinearity arises; two or more predictors are highly related and independent information is not provided. Due to this complication, this essay only focused on how the sociolinguistic factors of ethnicity, gender and age affected prison argot.
Prison argot transcends communication; “there are many distinct rules, codes of behavior and identity, solidarity, and hierarchy networks which the argot reflects and endorses (Looser 1999, 18). This argot creates and reinforces various components of the prison
subculture; consequently, this section explains the reinforcement through a discussion of prisoner identity and relations
The specialized vocabulary of argot creates a distinct identity for the prisoners. The lexicon, created to discuss prison subculture, serves this purpose better than any other language. Words such as ‘cell warrior’ (an inmate who acts cowardly when outside his cell), and ‘chin check’ (inmate on inmate violence as revenge for breaking the prison ‘rules’) are terms coined to depict the prison life (Rodarte 2015), and the common experience operates as a bonding factor. This unique usage of a non-dominant variety of the language induces group solidarity and identity. According to Looser (1999, 19), the general society is often referred to as the ‘outside’ - this exclusiveness strengthens the bond of those on the ‘inside’ who share similar experiences and information, as opposed to ‘outsiders’ who are ignorant of the prisoner’s reality. Similarly, since prisons are segregated by gender, the opposite sex is often perceived as part of the ‘outside world’. Male penal institutions refer to women in a manner that suggests little value: ‘bitch’, ‘muck hole’, and ‘tunnel ram’ (Rodarte 2015) are commonly heard. Female officers are derogatorily addressed as ‘kitty kitty’ or as having ‘a license to lick’ (Ibid.). This othering of females serves to strengthen the ‘male’ bond of the inmates as they are united by gender. Female inmates, though to lesser extent, practice the same othering of the opposite sex. Terms such as ‘half wit Harry’ and ‘sugar daddy’ indicate the women’s awareness of males as outsiders ( Looser, 1999, p. 20) and of their own identity as female prisoners. One integral aspect of prisoner identity is a differentiation from guards, other prison officials, and the Justice Department. The prison authorities possess their own jargon of official terms; which prisoners mock as ‘pig latin’ (Ellis 2005). These terms tend to be “governmental and evasive and use acronyms for the more repugnant aspects of prison life” (Ibid.). Prisoner argot, in stark contrast, attempts to accurately describe prison experience. To give an instance, the state of solitary confinement is referred to as ‘Intensive Management Unit’ by correctional officers, and as the ‘hole’ by prisoners. Through a distinct set of vocabulary, the prisoners utilize argot to intentionally distance themselves from the guards and create their own inmate identity. Moreover, inmates refer to guards derogatorily to further disassociate themselves. Terminology often puts prison officials on a lower level of social acceptance by referring to them as ‘screw’,
‘bitchkeepers’, ‘B.O.S.S’ (sorry son of a bitch spelt backwards). This, once again, unifies the prisoner identity by situating guards as the negative ‘other’ that no inmate would want a relationship with.
The argot is integral to understanding the complex hierarchy of the inmate social system in prison subculture. The relationships between prisoners are structured through prison lexicon, and the language is indicative of the unique relations that are exclusively found within this subculture. In his analysis, Sykes notes that “Words in the prison argot, no less than words in ordinary usage, carry a penumbra of admiration and disapproval, of attitude and belief, which channels and controls the behavior of the individual who uses them or whom they are applied” (as cited in Looser 2001, 19). Consequently, the label attached to an inmate dictates how they are to be treated. The label ‘nark’(informer) is particularly poignant in prison argot. Associated with a betrayal of inmate ethics and culture, the act of revealing information to prison officials forces the inmate to the bottom of prison hierarchy. Several synonyms for ‘nark’ exist; all with deeply negative connotations that indicate the universal loathing of narks by prisoners. An inmate in Einat and Einat’s (2000, 314) study stated that a ‘nark’ will be “ambushed, knifed, his face will be cut...so everybody knows who he is, and that they should never act like him.” This outlines the severe consequences that are brought forth by a single term in the argot. Similarly, the argot privileges those in positions of prestige by reinforcing their ‘superior’ status. For example, the ‘shot caller’ of a gang is one of the most respected individuals in the inmate social system (Rodarte 2015). He decides upon the direction of the gang i.e. whether they will sell drugs or assault a specific inmate. The term ‘shot caller’ officially recognizes his authority and the argot, thus, emphasizes his position as a leader. Prison lingo also creates a foundation for the violent interactions between prisoners. A significant number of assault terms exist, and the daily use of such violent argot incorporates prisoner on prisoner aggression as part of prison culture. To illustrate, ‘drama’ in inmate parlance refers to two gangs engaging in a fight or assaulting one another (Ibid.). When such an event occurs, other prisoners remain indoors to not get unnecessarily involved (Ibid.). ‘Drama’ differs from getting ‘X’D out’, as the latter refers to an inmate pointing out a member of a rival gang as a potential assault victim due to a
dispute of some kind. The necessity for these distinctions demonstrates how violence is integrated into prison culture, and how argot supplements this integration.
Prison argot is a complex linguistic system that represents the prisoner's norms, values and code of ethics. The terminology originates from a plethora of languages and sources, such as Romani, AAVE, and Spanish are only some of the contributors. This unique form of expression is influenced by sociolinguistic factors such as gender, ethnicity, and age, which not only generate new lexicon but impacts individual prisonerâ€™s usage. Integral to prison subculture, language helps to create a prisoner identity, a social network and dictates how inmates relate to one another. This situates argot as an inherent part of prison life that changes, adapts, and grows as the inmates navigate their relationships and life within walls.
“Best Prison Slang Words You (Hopefully Won't) Need To Know.” 2016. Prison Writers, September 14, 2016. http://prisonwriters.com/want-learn-prison-slang/. Einat, T. and H. Einat. 2000. “Inmate Argot as an Expression of Prison Subculture: The Israeli Case.” The Prison Journal 80, no. 3: 309-325. doi:10.1177/0032885500080003005 Ellis, P. 2005. “The Prison-House and Language: Modern American Prison Argot.” Accessed June 1, 2018. http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~cpercy/courses/6362-ellis. Ferranti, S. 2015. “Slammer Slang: The A-to-Z of Prison Lingo.” Vice, October 8, 2015. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jmazn4/slammer-slang-0000769-v22n10. Hotten, J. C. 1859. Dictionary of Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words Used at the Present Day in the Streets of London; the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge; the Houses of Parliament; the Dens of St. Giles; and the Palaces of St. James. London: J.C. Hotten. Looser, D. 1999. “'Boob Jargon': The Language of a Women's Prison.” New Zealand English Journal 13: 14-37. Looser, D. M. 2001. “Boobslang: A lexicographical study of the argot of New Zealand prison inmates in the period 1996-2000” Master's thesis, University of Canterbury Research Repository. Mulvey, Christopher. 2010. “Prison Lingo: The Language of the Prison Community.” English Project. Accessed June 1, 2018. http://www.englishproject.org/resources/prison-lingo-language-prisoncommunity. Rodarte, B. 2015. “The Unique Dialect of Prison Slang.” Psychrod, June 25, 2015. http://psychrod.com/the-unique-dialect-of-prison-slang/. Sakala, L. 2014. “Breaking Down Mass Incarceration in the 2010 Census.” Prison Policy, May 24, 2014. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/rates.html. Tozer, J. 2009. “Convicts use ye olde Elizabethan slang to smuggle drugs past guards into prison.” Daily Mail, June 8, 2009. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article1191475/Convicts-use-ye-olde-slang-fool-guards.html.
Williams, D. R., N. Priest and N. B. Anderson. 2016. â€œUnderstanding associations among race, socioeconomic status, and health: Patterns and prospects.â€? Health Psychology 35, no. 4: 407-411. doi:10.1037/hea0000242.
Abstract. This paper examines the Al Mahdi case at the International Criminal Court and its war crimes charge of intentionally directing attacks against protected buildings. The paper argues the ICC has set a dubious precedent for future prosecution in non-international armed conflict situations involving the destruction of cultural heritage. It finds that, the war crimes charge is not in accordance with the Rome Statute because of the meaning of “attack” under article 8(2)(iv) and that, instead, Al Mahdi’s acts amount to crimes against humanity. It resituates this argument into an analysis of the difference in the conceptualization of cultural heritage destruction between the Court’s judgment and its decision on reparations. Key words. Al Mahdi Case, ICC, Cultural Heritage Destruction, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes.
n her preliminary assessment of the Situation in Mali, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’ or ‘Court’) concluded that "the information available does not provide a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity
under Article 7 [of the Rome Statute] have been committed” (Office of the Prosecutor 2013). Accordingly, the possibility of establishing the commission of crimes against humanity was dismissed as early as the preliminary investigation stage and never revisited (Schabas 2017). Instead, the Situation in Mali regarding the non-international armed conflict between government forces and various organized armed groups focused exclusively on war crimes under Article 8 of the Rome Statute (Office of the Prosecutor 2013). There is “a reasonable basis to believe” that war crimes committed in Mali since January 2012 include murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, torture, the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without due process, pillaging, rape, and intentionally directing attacks against protected objects (Ibid.). On September 27th, 2016, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, head of Hesbah, was sentenced to nine years of prison for co-perpetration of the destruction of nine Mausoleums and one Mosque in Timbuktu in 2012 under Article 8(2)(e)(iv) (The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi 2017). This was both the ICC’s first guilty plea and cultural heritage destruction case of “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes [or] historic monuments ... provided they are not military objectives” (Ibid.). However, despite its undeniable contribution to the development of accountability for the destruction of protected objects under international criminal law, the Al Mahdi case constitutes a dubious precedent for future ICC prosecution in situations involving the destruction of cultural heritage. Critical commentary on the case has been based on various grounds and arguments. However, this essay will focus on what is in all probability the most serious denunciation, namely William Schabas’ critique that “Al Mahdi has been convicted of a crime he did not commit” (Schabas 2017). In that connection, it will then venture to defend Sebastián Martínez’ position that Al Mahdi’s acts amount to crimes against humanity. Lastly, it will resituate this argument into an analysis of the difference in the conceptualization of cultural heritage destruction between the Court’s judgment and its decision on reparations (Martinez 2015).
In wake of the civil war that broke out in Mali in 2012, Northern provinces and the city of Timbuktu were seized by anti-government forces with extremist Islamist ideologies. After Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had taken effective control over Timbuktu, obedience to Sharia was enforced by means of an Islamic Tribunal, a morality brigade and a police force entitled Hesbah (The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi 2017). Hesbah was tasked with the eradication of apparent vices, among which they counted the religious traditions the local population had practiced at mausoleums for centuries and the way in which structures had been built over the tombs, which was considered contrary to the precepts of Sharia (Ibid.). Al Mahdi, who headed Hesbah from April until September of 2012, oversaw the planning and execution of the destruction of ten mausoleums and the door of a mosque with tools such as pickaxes and iron bars (Ibid.). He also justified the acts as media-spokesperson and participated directly in some of the material executions of destruction (Ibid.). Ensuing from the evidence of such acts and Al Mahdi’s admission of guilt, the Court found him responsible for co-perpetration as a part of Hesbah of the crime of “[i]ntentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes [or] historic monuments” (Ibid.). The Court concluded that: [The] mausoleums and mosques all qualify as both religious buildings and historic monuments, as evidenced by their role in the cultural life in Timbuktu and the status of nine of these buildings as UNESCO World Heritage sites. UNESCO’s designation of these buildings reflects their special importance to international cultural heritage (Ibid.).
As such, the Al Mahdi case was praised among initial reactions which held the case to be a “breakthrough” for the protection of cultural heritage and the international criminal prosecution of its destruction (Kersten 2018). However, there are several points of contention and concern that have become prominent. Firstly, the Prosecutor has yet to honor the explicitly expressed commitment to improving accountability for and prevention of sexual and gender-based crimes while the commission of such crimes has been reported in the Mali situation (International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor 2014; Human Rights Watch 2012; Suhr 2016). Secondly, there is the assessment that the principles of gravity and complementarity were not met, which was confounded by the Chamber’s much-criticized statement that “even if inherently grave, crimes against
property are generally of lesser gravity than crimes against persons” (The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi 2017; Kersten 2018; Vogelvang and Clerc 2016). In connection to that the conceptualization of cultural heritage destruction under the Rome Statute, it has been argued that the Al Mahdi case failed to establish a clear framework for future prosecutions of cultural heritage destruction because it was overly reliant on the UNESCO World Heritage status of nine of the ten sites in Timbuktu and its convergence of “outstanding universal value” to determine the facts of the case (Lixinski and Williams 2016). However, the most alarming critique has been that the destruction of cultural heritage in Timbuktu was wrongfully classified as a war crime and that instead, the acts committed by Hesbah under Al Mahdi constitute crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998). As this would mean that Al Mahdi has been convicted of the wrong crime and that the ICC has created a highly problematic development in the prosecution of cultural heritage destruction and the delivery of justice to its victims, the following sections will address the crimes against humanity charge.
According to William Schabas, the Court exercised a high degree of “judicial creativity” in classifying All Mahdi’s involvement in the destruction of the mausoleums, cemeteries and shrines in Timbuktu as a war crime under Article 8(2)(e)(iv) of the Rome Statute (Shabbas 2017, 77; Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998). This is because the meaning of “attack” against protected buildings under this provision as it is normally used is not applicable to Al Mahdi’s acts (Shabbas 2017, 77). Schabas bases this idea on a close reading of Article 8, the case law of the Court and of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), academic commentary, the travaux préparatoires of the Rome Statute and the treaties from which Article 8 is derived. The latter include The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 (Ibid.). In these treaties, ‘attacks’ means acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offense or in defense", as defined by Article 49 of Additional Protocol 1 (Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts 1977). Although this provision applies to international armed conflicts, a Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC established the academically supported position that "this term is given the same meaning in article 13(2) of Additional Protocol II ("APII"), which applies to armed conflicts, not of an international character”
(The Prosecutor v. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda 2009; Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts 1977). Violence against the adversary, as the well-established interpretation of the relevant humanitarian law, thus involves military measures and weapons of attack that constitute a “military attack” or “combat action” (Shabbas 2017, 81). It is, therefore, telling that the Court did not refer to ICTY case law on cultural property destruction or its Pre-Trial findings on the meaning of “attacks” under Article 8 in the Al Mahdi case. However, as Schabas explains, this case did not involve such “attacks” even though the situation in Mali may classify as a non-international armed conflict at the time of the destruction of the cultural sites (Ibid.). This is because the Islamist anti-government forces had established de facto control over Timbuktu by the time the destruction of the sites began which can therefore not be argued to constitute “combat action” against an adversary, as also evidenced by the use of tools such as pickaxes rather than military weapons (Ibid.). Furthermore, because the situation takes place in the context of civil war rather than an international war with delineated “occupiers and “occupied”, Schabas argues that the nexus between the armed conflict and the acts perpetrated should not simply have been argued by reference to the occupation of the territory (Ibid., 93-98). “One consequence of the very broad approach to the nexus requirement that the Court seems to have adopted is that it does not treat the rebel ‘occupiers,’ whose conduct becomes almost inherently criminal, in the same way as it treats the government forces” (Ibid., 98). The unjustified transference of “occupation” derived from laws on international armed conflict to a noninternational armed conflict, therefore, favors governments over rebel forces which contradicts fundamental principles of international humanitarian law (Ibid.). Hence, the main problem of prosecuting the acts committed in Timbuktu as war crimes are that the destruction of the cultural sites was not committed against the property under control of an adverse party. As explained by Schabas, “the fact that power has been seized during an ongoing civil war should not in and of itself be sufficient to constitute the nexus required for prosecution as war crimes with respect to the efforts of the rebel group to govern the territory that it holds” (Ibid.). However, within that territory, rebel groups such as Ansar Dine and its Hesbah may be held responsible for “attacks” as understood under Article 7 of the Rome Statute (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998).
Under Article 7, an “attack” that may amount to a crime against humanity “means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack” (Ibid.). Such attacks are acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack” (Ibid.). Al Mahdi’s co-perpetration of the destruction of the cultural sites in Timbuktu severely violated the fundamental right to human dignity and freedom of religion of the civilian population of Timbuktu. If such violations can be proven to fall under an act listed under Article 7(1) as part of a systematic or widespread attack against a civilian population, they may constitute crimes against humanity (Ibid.). According to Sebastián Martínez, the destruction of cultural heritage as directed by Al Mahdi fulfills said criteria as the crime against humanity of persecution (Martinez 2015). The crime of persecution requires that the targeting of one or more persons was “by reason of the identity of a group or collectivity or targeted the group or collectivity as such” on “grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law” (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998). In the case of Al Mahdi’s destruction of the ten cultural sites, Martínez demonstrates, the violence unleashed on the buildings constitutes an attack against the inhabitants of Timbuktu as a collectivity on cultural and religious grounds (Martinez 2015, 1093-96). These were corroborated by the Court as it “considers that the discriminatory religious motive invoked for the destruction of the sites is undoubtedly relevant to its assessment of the gravity of the crime” (The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi 2017). On these grounds, Ansar Dine and Hesbah sought to enforce their interpretation of Islam and Sharia by means of eradicating the cultural and religious beliefs and practices to which the people of Timbuktu adhered (Ibid.). Such discriminatory deprivation of fundamental rights against the residents of Timbuktu under the control of AQIM and Ansar Dine were part of both widespread and systematic attacks against civilians under the extremist enforcement of Sharia. (Ibid., 1089-92). These attacks involved killings, amputations, rapes and destruction of cultural property and were carried out by rebel officials in organized structures such as Hesbah, who had knowledge thereof (Ibid.). It is, therefore, highly problematic that the opportunity to prosecute crimes against humanity charges was abandoned as early as the preliminary assessment stage. The attacks against the Mausoleums and Mosques of Timbuktu should be understood as an
onslaught against the identity of the people of Timbuktu as their cultural expressions were connected to the destroyed sites for centuries (Casaly 2016). The attacks were perpetrated against civilians in a context of widespread and systemic violations of fundamental human rights. They, therefore, warrant a crimes against humanity charge rather than one based on the war crimes conception of “attack” as combat action which is not applicable to the situation Al Mahdi was operating in.
Ana Vrdoljak has remarked that the Court’s approach as outlined above was “unsurprising” seeing as it was the first cultural and religious property case before the ICC and “[i]t replicates a pattern set by the IMT [International Military Tribunals] and ICTY, where war crimes proved to be an initial stepping stone to subsequent crimes against humanity (persecution)” (Vrdoljak 2018, 19). In terms of prosecution of cultural heritage destruction as constitutive of the crime of persecution, the crimes against humanity approach may, therefore, be considered more demanding on part of the Court due to the emphasis on contextual and intentional factors (Ibid.). On the other hand, it is precisely such emphasis that clearly establishes the connection between human rights and cultural heritage. Hence, Vrdoljak maintains, there is a certain tension between the Court’s judgment and the sentencing phase and reparation phase. While the judgment refers to specialized cultural heritage instruments that do not reference human rights norms, the reparations decision emphasized the “human dimension” of the crimes perpetrated by Al Mahdi and the losses they entailed for the population of Timbuktu (Ibid., 18; The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi Reparations Order 2018). The Court maintained that, despite convicting Al Mahdi of committing a war crime against protected property, reparations were due to the people whose cultural life and identity had been gravely disrupted
18). Consequently, the reparations order focused on property damage, economic loss ensuing therefrom, and moral harm while specifically prioritizing the affected inhabitants of Timbuktu (Ibid.; The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi Reparations Order 2018). Consequently, it ordered collective reparations aimed at the protection and maintenance of the affected sites next to individual payments for moral harm and direct loss of livelihoods in recognition of the communal effects of the crimes (The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi Reparations Order 2018; Vrdoljak 2018, 18-19; Balta and Banteka
2017). Furthermore, the Court ordered guarantees of non-repetition and a translation of an apology written by Al Mahdi in local languages (Ibid.). Hence, according to Alina Balta and Nadia Banteka, “the Court created a precedent for protecting the spiritual and religious connection between the victimized communities and protected buildings” (Balta and Banteka 2017). However, this “human dimension” was not reflected in the war crimes conviction of the judgment and the precedent of the Al Mahdi case which, in its totality, thus merits considerably less enthusiasm. Its contribution to the international criminal law framework on cultural heritage protection is dubious for many reasons, as previously identified. However, the premature dismissal of crimes against humanity despite considerable evidence of severe human rights violations and the ensuing war crimes charge is especially disconcerting. Such a charge is not in accordance with the Rome Statute because of the meaning of “attack” under article 8(2)(iv) as generally understood. A crime against humanity of persecution charge is a more viable approach for cultural heritage destruction in territories under control of anti-government forces. The decision on reparations illuminates the questionable choices the ICC made in the Al Mahdi case by its pronounced reference to the victims of a crime the judgment did not recognize in its charging decisions. The notion that Timbuktu is a mystical, ethereal place thus remains unfortunately reminiscent of the establishment of a sound framework for the criminal prosecution of cultural heritage destruction under the Rome Statute.
Primary Sources Table of Legislation Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and Annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land (18 October 1907) 187 CTS 227 of 18 October 1907 entered into force 26 January 1910 1949 Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (12 August 1949) 75 UNTS 287 of 12 August 1949, entered into force 21 October 1950 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II) (8 June 1977) 1125 UNTS 609 of 8 June 1977, entered into force 7 December 1978 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (17 July 1998) UN Doc A/CONF.183/9 of 17 July 1998, entered into force 1 July 2002 Elements of Crimes of the International Criminal Court 2002, UN Doc. PCNICC/2000/1/Add.2 (2000)
Table of Cases The Prosecutor v. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda (Decision on the Confirmation of Charges) ICC02/05-02/09 (8 February 2010) The Office of the Prosecutor, Situation in Mali Art. 53(1) Report, 16 January 2013 The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi (Judgement and Sentence) ICC-01/12-01/15 (27 September 2016) The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi (Reparations Order) ICC-01/12- 01/15 (17 August 2017)
Secondary Sources Policy Paper International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor, ‘policy paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes’ (International Criminal Court, June 2014) <https://www.icccpi.int/iccdocs/otp/OTP-Policy-Paper-on-Sexual-and-Gender-Based-Crimes-June-2014.pdf> accessed 28 March 2018
Casaly, Paige. 2016. “Al Mahdi before the ICC: Cultural Property and World Heritage in International Criminal Law” 14.5 International Criminal Justice 1199. Gerstenblith, Patty. 2015. “The Destruction of Cultural Heritage: A Crime against Property or a Crime against People” 15 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 336. Martínez, Sebastian. 2015. “Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Northern Mali: A Crime against Humanity?” 13.5 Journal of International Criminal Justice 1073. Schabas, William. 2017. “Al Mahdi Has Been Convicted of a Crime He Did Not Commit” 49 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 75 Stewart, David and Bishop-Burney, Uzma. 2017. “International Criminal Court-Rome statute-war crimes-destruction of cultural property-UNESCO designation-coperpetration-guilty plea.” 111.1 American Journal of International Law 126 Vrdoljak, Ana. 2018. “Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi: Judgment and Sentence & Reparations Order (Int'l Crim. Ct.)” 57.1 International Legal Materials 17
Online Sources Balta, Alina and Banteka, Nadia. “The Al-Mahdi Reparations Order at the ICC: A Step towards Justice for Victims of Crimes against Cultural Heritage” (Opinio Juris, August 25 2017) <http://opiniojuris.org/2017/08/25/the-al-mahdi-reparations-order-atthe-icc-a-step-towards-justice-for-victims-of-crimes-against-culturalheritage/> accessed 28 March 2018 Human Rights Watch, “Mali: Islamist Armed Groups Spread Fear in North” (Human Rights Watch, 25 September 2012) <https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/25/maliislamist-armed-groups-spread-fear-north > accessed 26 March 2018 Kersten, Mark. “Why the Timbuktu Case Is a Breakthrough for International Criminal Court” (The Globe and Mail, 25 August 2016) <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/timbuktu-case-a-breakthrough-forinternational-criminal-court/article31540221/> accessed 26 March 2018 Big Fish or Little Fish - Who Should the International Criminal Court Target?’ (Justice in Conflict, 1 September 2016) <https://justiceinconflict.org/2016/09/01/big-fish-orlittle-fish-who-should-the-international-criminal-court-target/> accessed 26 March 2018 Lixinski, Lucas and Williams, Sarah. “The ICC’s Al-Mahdi Ruling Protects Cultural Heritage, But Didn’t Go Far Enough” (The Conversation, 18 October 2016)
<http://theconversation.com/the-iccs- al-mahdi-ruling-protects-culturalheritage-but-didnt-go-far-enough-67071> accessed 26 March 2018 Suhr, Valerie. “The ICC’s Al Mahdi Verdict on the Destruction of Cultural Heritage: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?” (Völkerrechtsblog, 3 October 2016) <https://voelkerrechtsblog.org/the-iccs-al-mahdi-verdict-on-the-destruction-ofcultural- heritage-two-steps-forward-one-step-back/> accessed 26 March 2018 Clerc, Sylvain and Vogelvang, Eva. “The Al Mahdi Case: Stretching the Principles of the ICC to a Breaking
Point?” (Justice Hub, 29 August 2016)
<https://justicehub.org/article/al- mahdi-case-stretching-principles-icc-breakingpoint> accessed 26 March 2018 United Nations Human Rights Office of the Prosecutor, ‘A Very Dark Future for the Local Populations in Northern Mali, Warn UN experts’, (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Press Release, 10 July 2012) <http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12337&La ngID=E> accessed 26 March 2018
Abstract. Under the rule of President Putin, Russia’s self-constituted historical narrative of its Soviet history has become highly contested and undergone several policy shifts. Such developments in State narrative are apparent in relation to actions taken under Stalin’s dictatorship. The Blockade of Leningrad and its corresponding museum particularly exemplify the significance of this, as the role of Leningrad’s citizens is elevated in importance over that of Stalin’s leadership. This article argues that the Museum of the Defense of Leningrad epitomizes the current Russian administration’s selectively-chosen political discourse utilized to re-evaluate the historical narrative of the former Soviet Union. Through an analysis of both the museum displays and Putin’s Victory Day speeches, this article generates an understanding of the creation of a renewed state narrative stemming from current vertical power underpinnings. Key words. Selective Memory, Soviet Memorialization, Historical Narrative, Russian Politics, Leningrad Blockade
uring the Second World War, the city of Leningrad was besieged by German forces from September 1941 until January 1944. This period, known as the Blockade of Leningrad, can be considered one of the most atrocious and disturbing times in
the city’s three-hundred-year history. This siege is contemporarily commemorated through mechanisms such as the city billboard opposite the Moscovsky Rail Terminal
stating ‘Leningrad-The Hero City’. Renamed St. Petersburg after the collapse of the Soviet Union, former Leningrad is thus commonly associated with the triumph of the Second World War, known by Russians as the Great Patriotic War; a victory accredited by historians to both Stalin’s leadership and the gallantry of local troops equally (Kirschenbaum 2006, 288-289). However, contemporary political discourse has controversially attributed this success mainly to the troops, rather than Stalin’s guidance. This is distinctly exemplified within the Museum of the Defence of Leningrad where the blokadniki, or survivors of the blockade, are memorialized as pivotal contributors to the victory of the war. This essay argues that Putin’s re-invention of the Russian historical narrative is aided by imagery this museum utilizes to sustain the continuation of nationalistic sentiments. Following a brief history of the museum, an analysis of the museum’s main linguistic elements is conducted and juxtaposed with Putin’s recent Victory Day speeches, which are then linked to the main theoretical framework. Putin’s personal relation to the siege of Leningrad and its related significance will then be elaborated upon.
The museum of the Defence of Leningrad, which displays a variety of artefacts from the blockade, opened in 1994 shortly after the end of Leningrad’s siege (Museum of the Defence of Leningrad 2018). However, three years later, during Stalin’s waves of suppression, the museum was closed and denounced to be of anti-party sentiment by understating Stalin’s role in the blockade victory and overstating that of Leningrad’s citizens (Nelson 2013, 134). It was not until the Glasnost period under Gorbachev that the museum was reopened (Museum of the Defence of Leningrad 2018). Although the official rationale behind the museum’s more than forty-year closure is unknown, it is commonly believed to be due to the underrepresentation of Stalin’s leadership. Under Putin’s current jurisdiction, the museum has received considerable refurbishments such as English translations for labels; which are relatively rare in Russian museums. Both the reopening of the museum and its subsequent modernization suggest the museum of the Defence of Leningrad acts as an artefact for the current Russian government’s political agenda.
The museum’s contested past can be attributed to its prioritization of the assumed strength and resilience of Leningrad’s citizens during the blockade. Such pre-eminence is found within the museum’s exhibit labels which utilize motifs to praise the portrayed
valiant characteristics of these citizens. The characteristic of heroism is repeatedly utilized1 by the museum in portrayal of soldiers through statements such as “heroic resistance” and “courageous defenders”.2 Similarly, grass-root militias are elaborated upon in apparent effort to emphasize the supposed bravery of inexperienced volunteers who helped “defend the motherland”.3 Furthermore, some of these placards create a collective nationalistic sentiment by stating, for example, “all citizens of the country rose to defend Leningrad”.4 Parallel rhetoric can be found within Putin’s annual Victory Day speeches in which he expresses Russia’s gratitude to those who have defended the “Motherland” (Kremlin 2017). Wood (2011, 174) associates this re-emphasis of societal strength with Russia’s relatively powerful role in the international community. Consequently, the Russian population associates itself with the characteristic of strength (Zhurzhenko 2007, 8). The utilization of linguistic elements related to heroism during the war can thus be considered as a patriotic mechanism signifying self-perceived exceptionalism within the Russian society. The prioritization this museum places on the efforts of Leningraders, and their everyday lives during the blockade, over the leadership of Stalin himself is obvious as his role is mentioned only once.5 This decision eliminates the ambiguity and disputes regarding Stalin’s governance (Edele 2017, 97). Kangaspuro and Lassila (2012, 383) argue Putin emphasizes historical events that foster nostalgia and possess positive sentiments while simultaneously minimizing contradictions surrounding Stalin’s reign. The narrative Putin has created around the Great Patriotic War is one in which internal pride is attributed to the Soviet Union and Russia. Thus, as Edele (2017, 100) states, Stalin’s inclusion in this narrative would decay Putin’s established glorification of this historic event as cruel crimes which occurred in the GULAGs and imposed terror would overshadow the Soviet Union’s victory against Nazi Germany (Khapaeva 2016, 65). Therefore, nostalgia related to this period has become a selective, political choice by the State. Russia’s artificially created memory of the Great Patriotic War is manipulated by Putin to establish a sense of continuity to the current State and its aimed stability. In each Victory Day speech from 2014 until 2018, Putin addresses Russia as “our motherland”,
See Appendix 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4. See Appendix 1.1. 3 See Appendix 1.4. 4 See Appendix 1.4. 5 See Appendix 1.1 1
thereby fostering a shared sense of inclusiveness (Kremlin 2015). Furthermore, this kind of discourse is capable of linking present-day Russian society with that of the Soviet society displayed in the museum of the Defence of Leningrad. For example, pronouns such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ are commonly utilized in the museum’s labels in connection with soldiers and the “motherland”
to strengthen patriotism within current Russian society
Kirschenbaum (2011) and Tumarik (2003, 610) sustain, Putin aims to increase national cohesion by selectively commemorating the Great Patriotic War. For example, after honouring associated veterans, he pledges current and future Russian generations to the continuation of the similar development of the State, particularly framing the idea of Russia’s foundation stemming from the Soviet victory (Kremlin 2015). Thereby, Putin establishes a foundation myth in which this victory facilitates the groundwork for a greater Russia (Kirschenbaum 2011). This glorification thus maintains a legacy for Russia’s future generations to self-mobilize and prioritize the State’s survival and protection.
Putin was born in Leningrad in 1952 to a family of blockadniki and thus has personal ties to the siege (Wood 2011, 173). According to Linán (2012, 22), Putin’s identification is particularly apparent within, and following, his second term as President of Russia as he illuminated hardships related to his brother’s untimely death during the blockade (Wood 2011, 186). For example, by visiting his brother’s grave at the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery in 2014 for the 70th anniversary of the Blockade of Leningrad, Putin aimed to establish personal connections with Russia’s history (Ibid.). Furthermore, this established connotations of strength and heroism linked to Putin’s persona (Ibid., 176). Consequently, this identification establishes a unique façade Putin employs to his advantage by aligning himself with Russia’s victory (Ibid.). Thus, Putin links himself to the notion of a strong and resilient State.
As this essay has maintained, the museum of the Defence of Leningrad still exhibits the siege from the same perspective Stalin reasoned its closure with a focus on the population rather than the leadership. The contemporary State purposefully employs this
See Appendix 1.3. See Appendix 1.4.
prioritization as this narrative establishes an affirmative perception of the war and the Soviet Unionâ€™s victory. As it has been demonstrated, this selectively chosen narrative aids Putinâ€™s clear political agenda as his equation of victory to supposed exceptional attributes of the Russian population unifies the State. Moreover, President Putin manipulates his personal links to the Blockade of Leningrad to frame himself as a righteous and dutiful leader serving Russia. Thus, following its forty-year closure and succeeding renovation, the museum of the Defence of Leningrad both reflects the Stateâ€™s selective narrative of the Great Patriotic War and compels related reflective discourse regarding the Putin administration to transpire. Consequently, the museum becomes part of a vertical power structure that resembles and reproduces the historical narrative presented by the State.
Edele, Mark. 2017. “Fighting Russia’s History Wars: Vladimir Putin and the Codification of World War II.” History & Memory 29, no. 2: 90-124. Kangaspuro, Markku and Jussi Lassila. 2012. “Naming the War and Framing the Nation in Russian Public Discussion.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 54, no. 3-4: 377-400. Khapaeva, Dina. 2016. “Triumphant memory of the perpetrators: Putin’s politics of reStalinization.” Communist and Post- Communist Studies 49: 61-73. Kremlin. n.d. “We pay tribute to all those who fought to the bitter for every street, every house and every frontier of our Motherland.” Kremlin. Accessed November 22, 2017. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/49438. Kremlin. n.d. “Military Parade on Red Square.” Kremlin. Accessed November 22, 2017. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/51888. Kremlin. n.d. ““военный парад на Красной плошади.” Kremlin. Accessed January 2, 2019. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/57436. Kirschenbaum, Lisa. 2011. “World War II in Soviet and Post-Soviet Memory.” The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review 38: 97-103. Kirschenbaum, Lisa. 2006. “Epilogue.” In The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941–1995: Myth, Memories, and Monuments, 287-297. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Linán, Miguel Vázquez. 2012. “Modernization and Historical memory in Russia: Two sides of the same coin.” Problems of post-Communism 59, no. 6: 15- 26. Museum of the Defence of Leningrad. n.d. “История Музея”. Accessed January 7, 2018. http://blokadamus.ru/cgi-bin/magazine.cgi?id=2. Nelson, Todd H. 2013. “Bringing Stalin back in: Creating a useable past in Putin’s Russia.” PhD diss., Kent State University. Tumarkin, Nina. 2003. “The Great Patriotic War as Myth and Memory.” European Review 11, no. 4: 595-611. Wood, Elizabeth. 2011. “Performing Memory: Vladimir Putin and the Celebration of WWII in Russia.” The Soviet and Post- Soviet Review 38: 172-200. Zhurzhenko, Tatiana. 2007. “The geopolitics of memory.” Eurozine: 1-11.
Appendix 1.1. Museum label. Museum of the Defence of Leningrad, St. Petersburg. Taken on September 24, 2017. On 9 July, 1941 the Germans Occupied Pskov located less than three hundred kilometres from Leningrad. 10 July, 1941 is deemed to mark the commencement of fight for Leningrad. Within a few days the enemy reached Lugar border line, but was stopped there on 14 July. It was only on 8-10 August that the German troops managed to bypass the border line from the flanks. On 8 September, 1941 they managed to get to the south of Lake Ladoga and seize the town Shlisselburg. This way Leningrad became blocked, cut off from other areas of the country. All railroads and highways providing supply to the city were cut by the enemy. The siege of Leningrad began. Then the German Headquarters staked on the siege, willing to suffocate Leningrad by famine, without leaving the intention to “raze Leningrad to the ground” (Directive of the Chief of German Naval Stuff “On the Future of the City Petersburg” as of 29 September 1941). An eynical statement sounded: as far as “Stalin defends Leningrad like a fortress, we are compelled to treat the city, its population, like a military object” (the note of Defence Department as of 21 October, 1941). The statement voiced that the German were not willing to feed the population of Leningrad “at the expense of our native Germany” (Directive of High Command Headquarters of the German armed forces as of 7 October, 1941). Hitler instructed not to accept capitulation of the hated city. However, the Leningraders did not even admit the idea of surrender. For 900 days the enemy had its troops next to Leningrad, but was not able to occupy, to break the city. The fascists faced heroic resistance of the defenders. On the stand you may see some photographs of the first heroes of the battle for Leningrad. Alexander’s Pankratov’s feat, who was the first to close the embrasure of the enemy’s weapon emplacement with his body was repeated by more than 400 Soviet soldiers at the time of the war (among them Alexander Matrosov whose name was used to describe such feat in the history). The newspaper (on the stand) published on 8 July, 1941 the first decree on awarding the title of Hero of the Soviet Union – the first from the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. The Gold Star of Hero was awarded to Leningrad pilots Zdorovtsev, Zhukov, Kharitonov. The courageous defenders of Leningrad sky undertook a ram attack of enemy planes and, risking the own life, did not let them approach the city. On the podium one can see a model of weapon – battery “A”. In July 1941 nine guns from cruiser “Aurora” were mounted in the area of Krasnoye Selo. They represented an artillery battery “A”. During the September storm the seamen, up to the last shell, fired at the enemy, and further
entered hand to hand fight. When only few of them were left, the gunners exploded their weapons. Almost all heroes perished, but no one left their positions.
Appendix 1.2. The Finnish Aggression. Museum label. Museum of the Defence of Leningrad, St. Petersburg. Taken on September 24, 2017. Finland was at war on the side of the fascist Germany. The Finnish troops began operations in the first days of the German attack on USSR. Finland and Germany coordinated their plans in respect of Leningrad. In the long term, after the fall of the city, the frontier between the countriesaggressors was to pass along the Neva. Initially their troops were to join at the Karelian Peninsula and in the area of the river Svir. In this case supplies to Leningrad over Ladoga would be impossible. They city would be doomed to death. After the repulse of the German Storm at the approaches to Leningrad, Finland was reluctant to show initiative. The Baltic Fleet proved to be of great importance for the disruption of the Finnish attack. The naval depot at peninsula Hanko heroically defended its territory for 164 days. After the evacuation of the depot garrison, Leningrad Front was joined by efficient force – dignified defenders of Hanko. The right stand displays the chart of defence and evacuation. A leaflet “Hanko garrison’s reply to Mannerheim” written in the style of Zaporozhy Cossacs letter to the Turkish sultan is of special interest.
Appendix 1.3. Final Liberation of Leningrad from the Enemy Siege. Museum label. Museum of the Defence of Leningrad, St. Petersburg. Taken on September 24, 2017. In autumn 1943 the intensive development of operation of final liberation aimed at final liberation of Leningrad from the siege was carried out. On the eve of the operation the propaganda in our troops and in the enemy troops was strengthened. This is material illustrated in the left stand on the wall. Under it – on the podium- there is a model of a car with a broadcasting unit. Such automobiles were taken to the frontline, they broadcasted towards the enemy side, urging Germans to stop resistance and surrender. Next to the model is a film projector. On the dummy you see a uniform and equipment of a political instructor. You see a big chart-scheme of operation “Neva-2”, or Leningrad-Novgorod strategic offensive. To the west from Leningrad, Oranienbaum bridgehead (see section O-5) is designated. Here 2nd Shock Army off Leningrad Front was moved across the Gulf of Finland by the vessels of Baltic Fleet, from November 1943 up to January 1944 (about 50 thousand fighters, 200 tanks, over 650 artillery weapons). Owing to skilful camouflage, the regrouping proved to be unnoticed by the enemy who monitored the water area of the Gulf of Finland from the coast. On 14 January, 1944 2nd Shock Army assumed the offensive from Oranienbaum bridgehead. On the same day Bolkhov front troops started military actions in the area of Novgorod. On 15 January 42nd army hit the enemy in the Leningrad
area, from Pulkovo heights. On the podium, under the chart, you see a model of deployment of Soviet and German troops in the area of Pulkovo heights before the offensive. As a result of persistent fights, the powerful defence of Germans was broken. By 27 January, 1944 our troops dislodged the enemy 65-100 kilometres from Leningrad and set free more than 700 residential settlements. The circle around the city was totally liquidated. It was the end of the siege.
Appendix 1.4. Commencement of the Great Patriotic War. Museum label. Museum of the Defence of Leningrad, St. Petersburg. Taken on July 24, 2017. Please watch the chart of the German troops’ planned actions. It was supposed to deliver three major blows – in the south – attack on Kiev, and further on the Caucasus, in the centre – on Moscow. In the north the Army Group “Nord” was to seize Leningrad – the major strategic centre of the country. In case of its fall the Soviet Baltic Fleet would have been doomed to destruction, losing its last naval base in the Baltic. The Germans planned to destroy the Baltic Fleet, to gain the freedom of navigation and deliver materials for the German war industry (ore, nickel, manganese, copper) over the Baltic Sea from Northern Europe free of charge. The fascists aspired as well to destroy Leningrad defence plants that produced modern and unique armaments for the Red Army. Seizing Leningrad, the German troops could break through further to the north – to ports Murmansk and Archangelsk which were used by allies for delivery of aid – willing to stop the “land lease”. The enemy, from the very first days of the war, faced fierce resistance of the Soviet troops, the Soviet people. Leningraders, as well as all citizens of the country, rose to defend the Motherland, the native city. Dozens of thousands of volunteers importuned military registration and enlistment offices. Those who were not enlisted for active service by virtue of age or state of health joined the national home guard. In one week only from the beginning of the war, counting from 30 June, 1941, Leningrad National Home Guard Army was formed. See picture (above) “Civil Guardsmen” (painter B. Semenov, 1987). Many depicted people are not young at all. They lacked arms. Some people had never held them, and they had no time for elementary combat training. Nevertheless the home guard was joined by over 135 thousand persons. In the showcase are some documents of civil guardsmen, a bottle with incendiary mix. The defence of Leningrad would have been in fact impossible without participation of the national home guard. The city was in danger of death.
Abstract. Using Joseph Massad’s concept of the “Gay International,” this essay argue that Mashrou’ Leila’s song Tayf embodies the band’s internalization and export of the Gay International’s agenda which unintentionally contributed to the persecution of some Egyptian individuals after their concert in September 2017. The findings indicate that liberation as depicted by the West could come at a cost because people who used to be able to act and engage in same-sex practices privately but more freely are now bound by new rules that seek to constrain them due to the influence of Westernization in Egyptian society. As such, the Gay International’s imposition of labels and sociopolitical identities on practitioners of same-sex contact denies Middle Easterners the agency to address and negotiate their sexualities on their own terms. Key words. Gay International, Repression, Joseph Massad, Identity, Violence, MENA.
ne of the worst state crackdowns on individuals that were thought to be gay took place in the aftermath of a concert held in Cairo by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, leaving both the band and concertgoers with a tainted memory of what has
been described as an otherwise beautiful night (Holslin 2017). Mashrou’ Leila is an indie
music band that is led by the openly-gay
singer Hamed Sinno, which has become
increasingly well-known in the Western media as a politically active band that is openly supportive of gay communities (CNN 2018). This is evident in much of their music but especially in one of their most overtly political songs: Tayf (Ghost). The song was released by the band in 2015 to commemorate the tragic closure of a gay night club called Tayf in Lebanon and the arrests, humiliation and dehumanization of the club-goers by the Lebanese authorities in 2013 (Bennett 2016). Since then, Mashrou’ Leila has been at the forefront of gay rights’ debates surrounding the Middle East, especially after the abovementioned events took place in Cairo (Noureldin 2017). According to Joseph Massad, one of the most prominent scholars on Arabs and sexuality, Western imperialism has played a prominent role in the imposition of gay rights and identities on the rest of the world, especially within the Middle East. He attributes this Orientalist narrative to what he calls the “Gay International,” or a collective unit that encompasses “missionary tasks, the discourse that produces them, and the organizations that represent them” in the West (Massad 2002, 361-62). One of Massad’s key arguments is that the Gay International’s attempts to “liberate” practitioners of same-sex contact by turning them into individuals who publicly identify as homosexual could lead to the persecution and repression of lower-class people who engage in same-sex contact within the Middle East (Ibid., 382-84). In line with Massad’s theory, the paper argues that the song Tayf embodies Mashrou’ Leila’s internalization and export of the Gay International’s agenda which unintentionally contributed to the persecution of some Egyptian individuals after the band’s concert in September 2017. This essay initially elaborates on Massad’s theory before proceeding to analyze two of the song’s themes within the Lebanese context. Then, it proceeds to discuss some of the critiques of Joseph Massad’s work before briefly considering the broader implications of his work within the Egyptian context specifically.
In his book, Desiring Arabs, Massad examines how hegemonic Western ideas about and representations of Arabs in the Middle East frequently link their sexual desires to their civilizational worth both historically and contemporarily (Massad 2007, 47-49). Within the colonial context specifically, Orientalist scholarship commonly denigrated same-sex and other sexual practices within the Orient as examples of Arab licentiousness and debauchery that offended Victorian ethics (Ibid., 8-9). In fact, it was only after Arab intellectuals adopted Victorian ideas about appropriate and shameful sexual activities that
certain sexual desires became condemned as unethical within the Arab world (Ibid., 15). As such, it is deemed ironic that the premodern West critiqued the proclaimed licentiousness of the Middle East while the modern West currently chastises it for its supposed suppression of sexual freedoms (Ibid., 37). Massad is strongly critical of this “assimilationist project” which he argues has consistently attempted to shame nonEuropeans into adopting similar cultural ideas and practices that are in line with European concepts of civilization and culture (Ibid., 416-17). Another complicating factor that Massad addresses relates to his contention that the identification with a particular sexual orientation in itself, but not the actual engagement of individuals in same-sex practices, is a phenomenon that is imported from and imposed by the West upon the Middle East (Ibid., 173). Massad critiques the Gay International for assuming that all same-sex practitioners in the Middle East need to be saved and that the only way that such individuals can live dignified lives is if they transform from people who engage in same-sex acts to people who identify themselves as gay or queer (Ibid.). He is additionally critical of privileged upper-class Arab same-sex practitioners who, alongside the Gay International, attempt to incite discourse on homosexual rights and identities (Massad 2002, 374). In accordance with Massad’s definition, the paper argues that Mashrou’ Leila has become a part of this discourse by taking up the mantle of the Gay International through their songs which export the brand of gay pride, LGBTQ visibility and queer identities to other areas in the Middle East where they have performed, including Cairo. By internalizing this imperialist agenda, Mashrou’ Leila has become unintentionally complicit in reinforcing the notion that one cannot be a practitioner of same-sex acts without re-evaluating and redefining themselves in terms of their sexual preferences. Although this is not necessarily problematic in the West, it is far more nuanced and delicate a situation in the Middle East because of the backlash and potential for repression that actually did take place in Egyptian society. In fact, Massad specifically argues that the Gay International’s mission to allegedly “liberate” Arabs and Muslims by transforming them into people who identify as gay has actually resulted in increased repression and limited the freedom of lower-class Arabs to engage in same-sex contact (Ibid., 383). This illustrates the prevalence of the historical process of Othering that continues to exist to this very day and Massad’s deconstruction of this is the very basis upon which he establishes his argument about the “Gay International.” As such, the following section analyzes the
song and two themes that illustrate the extent to which it can be perceived as a means through which the Gay International’s agenda can be furthered.
The song Tayf contains a great deal of symbolism and utilizes many themes and metaphors to strengthen its political message. While the song does not explicitly refer to the club Tayf, the political setting is clear considering the band’s confirmation of the song’s meaning and metaphors alluding to a club-like atmosphere. One of the most prominent themes is violence, which begins with the first verse of the song: “I sang with a chorus of ghosts under the bullets of my city.” This reference to “bullets” alludes to Lebanon’s war-torn climate and experiences of violence in the past. By setting the scene for their listeners, Mashrou’ Leila has indicated the grave nature and politically contentious backdrop of their song. The fourth verse is also quite symbolic, referring to the pouring of “neon tears on the blacks (pupils) of the eyes,” which can be seen as a comparison of the flashing of neon lights within a club and its reflection off of people’s eyes to human grieving through crying. Thus, the song paints a vision of the club-goers as crying “neon” tears, possibly indicating that they are potential victims in this narrative. The fifth verse provides listeners with a powerful visual as it references the violent emasculation of the club goers at the hands of the Lebanese authorities; the testes of the club-goers, acquired through the process of castration, serve as “medals” worn by the Lebanese authorities that make them more powerful and reinforce notions of hegemonic masculinity. The theme of violence in the song Tayf also resonates with the crackdown of Egyptian authorities on gay or suspected gay individuals, evident in the 35 arrests that took place within merely ten days after the concert (Mashrou’ Leila 2017). However, this number had increased to over 85 people as of January 2018 and the violent repression included subjecting the people arrested to both lengthy sentencing and rectal exams akin to torture to determine their sexual orientation (Ghosal 2018). This is relevant to Joseph Massad’s argumentation about the “Gay International,” especially within the context of Egypt, because it is reminiscent of another infamous Egyptian incident involving the arrest of alleged homosexuals in 2001 within a discotheque in a boat on the Nile River (Massad 2007, 181). The men arrested at that time were also subjected to rectal exams and the incident was also widely publicized by the Gay International (Ibid.). The Egyptian scholars and press that responded to this incident often referred to the involvement of the West as proof of an “imperialist plot” that attempted to promote “deviant sex” (Ibid., 184). However, one
important difference between the incident of 2001 and the most recent act of repression is that Egyptian officials have become actively involved in persecuting people by entrapping some individuals through dating apps in 2017 (Youssef and Stack 2017). In addition, while both Islamists and the press began to advocate for the criminalization of same-sex practices in Egypt in 2001, a draft law explicitly criminalizing homosexuality, which had previously not existed, was introduced to the Egyptian Parliament approximately one month after the Mashrou’ Leila concert was held (Massad 2007, 184; Sakr 2017). This fulfills Massad’s prediction concerning the creation of anti-homosexual legislation and demonstrates that choosing to be “publicly” gay within the conservative society of Egypt can actually lead to increased repression instead of the “liberation” that the Gay International espouses (Massad 2007, 184, 188-89). Another striking theme in Tayf is that of identity which is referenced explicitly in the verse “and I was erased from the history books like it was your history (and your identity).” This verse could possibly refer not only to the lack of gay depictions historically, but also the deliberate erasure of gay representation as an identity that existed in Arab history. Furthermore, the chorus of the song states: “The bread of crows (mushrooms) began to grow, we inherit the earth tomorrow mom.” This is a particularly interesting verse that is almost literally borrowed from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mushrooms” as the last few lines in her poem read: “Our kind multiples: We shall by morning inherit the earth” (Plath 1998, 37-38). Sinno confirmed his reference to Plath’s poem in an interview and her text itself has been analyzed as a feminist critique of the oppression of women or other marginalized groups (Muhanna 2017; Fernquist 2018). In her poem, she depicts women as “mushrooms” that eventually rise up to dominate and transform the earth upon multiplying and gaining independence (Fernquist 2018). Similarly, it could be argued that Sinno compares the increased prominence and visibility of marginalized gay individuals in Lebanese society to the growth of “mushrooms” that will eventually transform Lebanese society into a space that is accepting of individuals who identify as gay or homosexual. Finally, the last line of the song reads: “Raise your high heels with singing, for songs are still allowed (to be sung).” This verse can be interpreted as being linked to Western gay movements since LGBTQ+ people often attempt to challenge heteronormative ideals through their choice of clothing in pride parades, such as through men wearing high heels (McFarland Bruce 2016, 110). Since the subjects identified in Tayf engage in same-sex contact, the song implies that gay-identifying Arabs can only be heard by partaking in visual displays of protest similarly
to the West. Hence, the higher the heels are, the louder the voices of the people who are demonstrating against the manner in which gay-identifying Arabs or same-sex practitioners are treated in society. The theme of identity is also particularly relevant to the Egyptian context because of how the song has linked gay pride and resistance movements to visibility. By emphasizing that gay pride and visibility will lead to greater freedom, the song encourages the political mobilization of its listeners, especially those that identify as gay. This was evident in the Egyptian concert of 2017, where the concertgoers raised the rainbow flag while literally singing the songs of Mashrou’ Leila. However, the identity politics involving queerness or homosexuality is particularly complex within Egyptian society for a number of reasons. As a Lebanese band, Mashrou’ Leila’s political activism through its songs, interviews and actions has contributed to its ability to allow for a queer space in Lebanon, and in Beirut especially. Nonetheless the differences between Egypt and Lebanon cannot be dismissed. While LGBTQ activism has had political consequences in Lebanon such as the ones described in the song Tayf, they were far more severe in the Egyptian case, which the band itself admitted in a public statement issued after the crackdown (Mashrou’ Leila 2017). For example, the gay scene in Lebanon is characterized by consociationalism and sectarianism, cosmopolitanism and inequalities and conflicting homosexual identities (Nagle 2018, 7677; Moussawi 2018, 175; Merabet 2004, 31). This differs from the Egyptian political context, not only because Egyptian society is more conservative, but also because each country has different experiences, histories and political climates. Therefore, by promoting visibility and identification with homosexuality as the solution to the problems that all “gay people” experience, Mashrou’ Leila has internalized the agenda of the “Gay International” and exported it through their political music to places such as Egypt where increased visibility has only led to increased repression, instead of “liberty.”
Despite this, however, Massad has been critiqued for attributing “Arab homosexuality and the persecution of gays” to the “Gay International” instead of the contentious relationship between the Middle East and Europe that has spanned several centuries (Ze'evi 2008). He has also been criticized for not acknowledging that at least some people in the Middle East crave the freedom to identify with modern identities, including those that are associated with gay movements elsewhere (Ali 2008). As such, it could be argued that he reduces people’s desire to live in healthy and loving relationships between two people of the same
sex to something that is overtly political and a manifestation of Eastern-Western relations. Furthermore, Massad could also be critiqued for his dismissal of homosexuality as a concept that originated strictly in response to Western colonization (Haddad 2017, 185). While these criticisms are not without merit, it can be argued that Massad in fact does place the “Gay International” in the wider context of Middle Eastern and European relations as his work traces the engagement of Arab intellectuals with Europeans for a period of at least two hundred years (Massad 2007, 47). In addition, the framework through which Massad critiques the “Gay International” is not dismissive of the rights and desires of people who engage in same-sex contact to live their lives normally. On the contrary, his work is an acknowledgement of this process, but only in the West as he is highly critical of imposing a Western conception of “gay rights” and “gay identities” on the Middle East precisely because it has already had severe ramifications and led to the persecution of people, many of whom do not necessarily identify as gay (Ibid., 189-90). As such, it is my contention that the Gay International’s imposition of labels and sociopolitical identities on practitioners of same-sex contact denies Middle Easterners the agency to address and negotiate their sexualities on their own terms.
There are many social and political implications to the songs and actions of Mashrou’ Leila. Upon examining two of the most important themes in the song Tayf and analyzing the unique political situation in Egypt, a link between gay activism and repression has been established. Then, upon examining the points made by Joseph Massad’s critics and reconsidering them within the larger context of his book, the paper has demonstrated that Massad’s work is still significant to understanding sexual developments that take place within the Arab world. It is important to note that liberation as depicted by the West comes at a cost because people who used to be able to act and engage in same-sex practices privately but more freely are now bound by new rules that seek to constrain them due to the influence of Westernization in Egyptian society. The fact that individuals were persecuted in Egypt directly after the Mashrou’ Leila concert ended is a case in point about how increased visibility of gay-identifying individuals can lead to the repression of all persons who engage in same-sex practices through the criminalization of homosexuality within Egypt specifically. By internalizing the agenda of the Gay International and exporting it elsewhere, the band became unintentionally complicit in the repression and persecution that ensued in Cairo. Therefore, while the songs of Mashrou’ Leila are
interesting and unconventional, their propensity to affect politics and identity politics should not be underestimated. It demonstrates that they are more powerful than the typical music band and that their actions and songs should not be uncritically hailed as â€œliberatoryâ€? without first examining the complex political landscape within which they emerge.
Ali, Kamran Asdar. 2008. "Desiring Arabs (Book Review)." Middle East Journal 62, no. 3: 540-42. Bennett, Sarah. 2016. “This Lebanese Band’s Singer Isn’t Afraid to Speak Out About Being Arab and Queer.” LA Weekly, June 16, 2016. http://www.laweekly.com/music/thislebanese-bands-singer-isnt-afraid-to-speak-out-about-being-arab-and-queer7033695 CNN. n.d. “Lebanese Band Barred from Performing in Egypt.” Accessed March 25, 2018. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/11/15/mashrou-leila-band-humanrights-egypt-sg-orig.cnn. Fernquist, Jessica. n.d. “Assessing Sylvia Plath’s Poetry.” Accessed March 25, 2018, http://www.btsd.k12.wi.us/faculty/jotenk/Assessing%20Sylvia%20Plath's%20Poetr y,%20Mushrooms%20Analysis.doc. Ghoshal, Neela. 2018. “More Arrests in Egypt’s LGBT Crackdown, but No International Outcry.” Human Rights Watch, January 22, 2018. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/22/more-arrests-egypts-lgbt-crackdown-nointernational-outcry. Haddad, Patrick. 2017. “Occidental Gender Trouble and the Creation of the Oriental Sodomite.” Kohl: A Journal for body and Gender Research 3, no. 2 (Summer): 18495. Holslin, Peter. 2017. “Inside Egypt's LGBT Crackdown: One Band's Story.” Rolling Stone, October 25, 2017. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/inside-egyptslgbt-crackdown-one-bands-story-w509761. Mashrou’ Leila. 2017. “Over the course of the last 10 days, we had opted to remain relatively silent on the situation in Egypt, after consulting with various Egyptian activists, and human rights organizations.” Facebook, October 2, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/mashrou3leila/posts/10155035503593806. Massad, Joseph. 2007. Desiring Arabs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Massad, Joseph. 2002. "Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World." Public Culture 14, no. 2: 361-85.
McFarland Bruce, Katherine. 2016. Pride Parades: How a Parade Changed the World. New York: New York University Press. Merabet, Sofian. 2004. "Disavowed Homosexualities in Beirut." Middle East Report, no. 230: 30-33. Moussawi, Ghassan. 2018. "Queer Exceptionalism and Exclusion: Cosmopolitanism and Inequalities in ‘Gay-Friendly’ Beirut." The Sociological Review 66, no. 1: 174-90. Muhanna, Elias. 2017. “Mashrou’ Leila and the Night Club’s Political Power.” New Yorker, July 31, 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/mashrou-leilaand-the-nightclubs-political-power. Nagle, John. 2018. "Crafting Radical Opposition or Reproducing Homonormativity? Consociationalism and LGBT Rights Activism in Lebanon." Journal of Human Rights 17, no. 1: 75-88. Noureldin, Ola. 2017. “Controversy Flies On LGBT Rights After Rise of Rainbow Flag in Concert.” Egypt Independent, September 24, 2017. https://egyptindependent.com/controversy-flies-lgbt-rights-rise-rainbow-flagconcert/. Plath, Sylvia. 1998. The Colossus and Other Poems. New York: Vintage Books. Sakr, Taha. 2017. “MP Drafts Homophobic Law to Jail LGBT People or ‘Promoters’ in Egypt.” Egypt Independent, October 25, 2017. http://www.egyptindependent.com/mp-drafts-homophobic-law-jail-lgbt-peoplepromoters-egypt/. Youssef, Nour, and Liam Stack. 2017. “Egypt Expands Crackdown on Gay and Transgender People.” NY Times, October 3, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/world/middleeast/egypt-gay-arrests.html. Ze'evi, Dror. 2008. "Desiring Arabs (Book Review)," The American Historical Review 113, no. 5: 1480-81.
I sang with a chorus of ghosts under the bullets of my city And danced dabka under the light of the traffic lights Until I got high off the electricity of the spinal cord (electric) poles And I poured the neon tears on the blacks (pupils) of the eyes
And the cops took us to prison to castrate us and make medals We sewed the color of our flags from the funeral wraps of our executed comrades
The bread of crows (mushrooms) began to grow, we inherit the earth tomorrow mom (2x) And I spent my life with my right ransomed to your whims (Ahh Yanosk)
And I was erased from the history books like it was your history (And your identity) With our hips we translated the poems of Sappho and Abu Nuwas with the tongues of misfortune On our cloths (bedsheets) we sewed these misfortunes that we chanted in the protests
The bread of crows (mushrooms) began to grow, we inherit the earth tomorrow mom (2x) Raise your high heels with singing, for songs are still allowed (addressed in masculine) (4x)
Abstract. In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization. Since then, economically, the country has risen through the ranks in the international order to almost a superpower level. China is not an ordinary economic actor: it provides an alternative for countries that are not deemed democratic by the international liberal order. In Latin America, for example, China has become one of the most important trade partners throughout the last decades, especially for the so-called Pink Tide regimes. However, this has not come at a small price and these countries have felt the consequences of dealing with rising superpower, both economically and politically. Therefore, this essay examines the relationship between Latin American countries, namely Ecuador and Nicaragua, and China; and the future of development in the region. Key words. Neocolonialism, China, Latin America, Soft Power, Development.
ver the last years, Latin America has seen a number of significant changes. From a social perspective, many important civil society movements have emerged and restructured society; from a political one, the ideological pendulum continues to
shift to the extremes. In the economic sense, the rise of a new powerful partner, China, has
caused great controversy. In this essay, the focus will be the latter. Historically, Latin America has been the ‘backyard of the United States’, but in the recent decades US foreign policy has shifted to other regions of the world, leaving Latin America as a political no man’s land. With the rise of China as a new, alternative economic superpower, many countries with anti-US hegemony stances saw a viable opportunity to continue developing without having to adhere to the principles of the Washington Consensus. China gave hope to flawed democracies and countries that would have not been given loans otherwise. However, this has come at a great cost, politically and economically. Countries have become highly indebted with China, and have arguably signed off their future in regards to the extraction of certain resources, as well as in the political sphere. The aim of this essay is, therefore, to answer the question: Does the increasing use of Chinese soft power in Latin America create dependencies that can be described as a form of neo-colonialism? This question will be looked at using Ecuador and Nicaragua as case studies.
For the purpose of this essay, the historical-comparative method will be used to address the research question. Additionally, the analysis of the qualitative and descriptive data will be seen through the framework of Dependency theory, as well as Soft Power theory. The goal of using this method is comparing events, regardless of when and where they occur, and being able to determine specific patterns within them. The historical-comparative method is relevant to this research as the aim of this essay is to identify a new form of colonialism in Latin America that is primarily based on an economic aspect. Through this method, structures that prevailed during the period of European colonization are now concentrated into the international relations of countries, and the trade they engage in.
The two theories used to engage in this research deal either directly or indirectly with this new form of colonization. Firstly, Dependency theory addresses the underlying structures of underdevelopment and dependency that countries that are former colonies have. The term ‘underdevelopment’, while contested, explains in this context a type of economic system that is based on the primary sector, and experiences a decline in terms of trade (Cardoso and Faletto 1979, 17), therefore it is useful in this essay to explain the economic relations between countries. Proponents of this theory, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, Latin American sociologists, suggest that dependency occurs when these
countries integrate into the world market as primary product exporters (Ibid.). Sequentially, by focusing on the export of just a handful of products, former colonies in Latin America are subject to volatility shaped by the demand from Western countries such as the United States and European states. Nevertheless, they acknowledge the role of the local elites in this process as well. They state that the problem of dependency should not be considered merely as an external consequence, but that in some cases the interests of the national elites promote dependent relations between countries (Ibid., 22). The choice of using Dependency theory instead of other developmental theories, like Modernization theory by W.W. Rostow, stems from the Eurocentric approach the latter has. Rostow’s formulation assumes countries go through a linear process of development but ignores the ‘historical specificities’ (economic and social) that influence the processes of development. Through Dependency theory, it is possible to explain the development of countries in Latin America as they share common features. However, one of the critiques of this theory is its universalist nature: while some countries may share the same features contributing to underdevelopment, it is not the case with countries like China have developed from similar conditions. For example, in the case of China, Modernization theory partly explains its growth where Dependency theory does not.
The second theory used to frame this paper is Soft Power theory, conceptualized by Joseph Nye. Soft power, Nye describes, represents the shift from definitions of power (Nye 1990, 158). Before, in the 19th century, military power (what he calls “hard power”) was used as a way of coercing states into changing their behavior. Now it is also possible to change the behavior of states without exercising military force, but rather by economic relations. Another element in Nye’s theory is the asymmetrical relationships between countries based on economic and financial trade (Ibid.). One tool of soft power is infrastructure projects (Kelly 2017), a theme that will be discussed throughout this essay. This theory is appropriate as the relation between Latin American countries and China is not only asymmetrical, but also it is changing the political landscape in terms of international relations. There are a few critiques to this theory, namely due to its “inherently fuzzy nature of soft power and the difficulties associated with measuring the impact of an ideational” (Kearn 2011, 71). In addition, authors such as Ellis acknowledge the difficulty of using soft power in contemporary settings as foreign relations are more complex than they
seem (Ellis 2011, 71). Furthermore, soft power theory is an important concept that is still being studied and it is of great contribution to the analysis that will follow.
Finally, it is essential for this essay to define the concept of neo-colonialism. While the term was coined by Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, in the context of Africa, it is possible to use the concept in an analysis of Latin America. Nkrumah describes this process as “imperialism in its final and perhaps its most dangerous stage” (Nkrumah 1965). He follows this claim by explaining that while the State of former colonies is -in theory- independent, there are international actors that influence and control internal economic and political processes. Therefore, neo-colonialism can be described as a subtler form of colonialism that is based on the economic relations between countries that can, at the same time, influence the political decision the country makes. Neocolonialism can be closely related to soft power, in the sense that soft power can create neocolonialism through the different power structures that are developed between the different countries.
China’s engagement in Latin America gained some traction during the 2008 global financial crisis. With the decline in demand from the United States and Europe, the demand for goods from China increased, ultimately saving some Latin American countries from economic contraction (Ellis 2015, 266). Since then, many countries have turned to the PRC. However, this has not come without a price. In order to have diplomatic ties with China, the other nation must follow the ‘One-China’ policy, which means to recognize Taiwan (the Republic of China) as part of the People’s Republic of China, and not as a sovereign state. This policy has further isolated Taiwan, and it is exemplary of the power that China, as a rising economic superpower, has on smaller nations, notably in Latin America. This demonstrate China’s ability to change a state’s behavior, especially in regards to the economic gains that come along a partnership with China. Moreover, in relation to economic gains, the second policy paper released in 2016 by the PRC in regards to the region highlights “win-win situations” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China 2016, 2) as the goal of relations between countries. What these situations entail is symmetric trade relations; however, this has not been the case. For instance, in Ecuador, the bilateral economic agreements are inherently asymmetric. On one hand, since 2015 China has become the second largest importer of
Ecuadorian goods, with 19 percent of imports being directed there; and on the other hand, Ecuador’s exports to China are minimal (Peters, Armony and Cui 2018, 30). Secondly, in the publication by the PRC there is a clause pertaining to trade, in which mutual benefits are mentioned. While it is stated on paper, the reality reflects otherwise: Ecuadorian exports are mostly raw materials, such as crude petroleum and oil, while imports from China are goods with higher value added (Ibid.). This not only represents a negative balance of trade, further defining a relationship of dependency as Ecuador pays more for imports, in comparison to what their exports cost abroad, resulting in deficit. Furthermore, it also reflects the volatility in the economic sector of Ecuador, which can prove disastrous if demand for Ecuadorian oil declines.
Ecuador and China’s relationship started in the 1980s, when China’s presence in the region was minimal. However, since the early 2000s China’s involvement in Ecuador grew as the Chinese government sought to expand beyond its neighboring allies in search for energy sources like oil. The tightening of relations between these two countries was mutual. On one hand, Narins argues that Ecuador was “interested in exploring alternatives to the U.S. development model” (Narins 2012, 301) alternatively Jenkins argues that by the late 1990s “resource constraints really began to bite in China,” as there was a clear trade deficit in primary commodities usually found in Latin America (Jenkins 2012, 1338). The attraction to Ecuador is based on an oil reserve, arguably driving China into taking their economic partnership further. One way that China did so is by giving Ecuador loans in order to pay for massive infrastructure projects, like hydroelectric dams. This was an opportunity for the Ecuadorian government to expand its energy sector, as oil is the most exported commodity, being around 29 percent of total exports in 2016 (Observatory of Economic Complexity 2018). Despite the economic advantages of having loans from China, since 2008, Ecuador owed $11 billion in debt to the country and in 2013 the total amount of loans given paralleled 13.6 percent of Ecuador’s GDP of that same year (Kuo 2014).
Although many countries in the region share a similar relationship as Ecuador does with China, it is not the case for all. An example of a different form of relationship is Nicaragua. Central America is not known for having oil reserves, which in turn, limits the interest of the Chinese to invest in the region. Yet, Nicaragua proves to be a special case for several
reasons. The interest of China is not in commodities, but rather in shipping routes. In addition, Nicaragua is one of the few remaining countries in the region that does not have diplomatic ties with PRC, and instead recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign state. Regardless of not having formal diplomatic ties, and allegedly, not seeking them in the near future, China expressed interest in executing one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects (Peters, Armony and Cui 2018, 147) in Nicaragua, and in the region: a new interoceanic canal. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that this project is still illustrative to the sort of investments China wants to reach in the region, even though it has been abandoned (Cropsey 2018). The idea, and dream, of a canal through Nicaragua been around for around 160 years, however plans never solidified. Instead, the idea moved to Panama where the canal was built and has been in use since 1914 (van Rheenen 2018). In 2012, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega signed a Memorandum of understanding granting a private Chinese enterprise, HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment (HKND), the permission to build the project (Peters, Armony and Cui 2018, 150). Although a private company would have financed the project, many have pointed the ties of the CEO of HKND, Wang Jing, to the Chinese government. Wang is known for collaborating on public works with Chinese officials (Hayoun 2015), so his stake in the project could represent a conflict of interest between Nicaragua’s ally, Taiwan, and China. Furthermore, if the project had been finalized Nicaragua would have “receive[d] a 1% stake in the canal consortium [...] [and] also receive $100 million in each of ten annual payments for the concession” (Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign 2015). In this scenario, Nicaragua would receive small amount of the revenue that would come from said project, and the HKND would have most of the economic gains. Moreover, in economic terms this payment would account for 0.7 percent of the GDP, a significantly low increase in economic growth and would “develop” Nicaragua.8 This represents that the project would in fact not benefit Nicaragua, but rather a private foreign enterprise. Using the territory for the canal could have also raised the question of sovereignty. The presence of Chinese businesses in Nicaragua could result in a “canal zone” similar to the one in Panama during the years of US control of the Panama Canal. Another issue that could have emerged is the bilateral relations with Taiwan, as a project of this scale would have compromised Nicaragua into changing alliances. In the end, this project was abandoned due to the lack of funding and
This calculation was made by the author of this essay using the data of the Nicaraguan GDP, which accounts for $13.81 Billion, see "Nicaragua GDP." Accessed December 14, 2018. https://tradingeconomics.com/nicaragua/gdp. 8
feasibility. In 2015, the Chinese stock market crashed and Wang lost 85% of his fortune, from which the canal would have been financed (Phillips 2015).
Chinese influence in Latin America is ever growing. This is seen through the different levels of investment in the region: firstly, with cases like Ecuador where investment is linked to extractivism and others like Nicaragua to build ambitious infrastructures like a canal. What is certain is that these relationships will continue strengthening, and alliances to Taiwan can shift. While the Nicaragua canal continues to be a dream, it is not an exaggeration of what China seeks to achieve in the region, further gaining more legitimacy as an alternative economic superpower. For now, the relationships between countries have proven to be asymmetrical in gains as well as having an influential power in the politics of the country, showing a growing return to colonial-like relations between the region and one dominant nation. Economic dependency is a key issue in Latin American economics, and with China as a powerful partner, there is no sign of it disappearing from academic debates.
Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, Marjory Mattingly Urquidi and Enzo Faletto. 1979. Dependency and Development in Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cropsey, Seth. 2018. "China Sets Its Sights on South America." The American Interest. April 09, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2018. https://www.the-americaninterest.com/2018/04/09/china-sets-sights-south-america/. Ellis, R. Evan, Richard L. Millett, Jennifer S. Holmes, and Orlando J. Perez. 2015. "Chinese Influence on Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities." In Latin American Democracy: Emerging Reality or Endangered Species?, 264-79. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge. Hayoun, Massoud. 2015. "The Billionaire behind the Canal." Al Jazeera America. April 9, 2015. Accessed December 14, 2018. http://projects.aljazeera.com/2015/04/nicaragua-canal/wang-jing.html. Jenkins, Rhys. 2012. "Latin America and China—a New Dependency?" Third World Quarterly 33, no.7: 1337-358. doi:10.1080/01436597.2012.691834. Kearn, David W. 2011. "The Hard Truths about Soft Power." Journal of Political Power4, no. 1: 65-85. doi:10.1080/2158379X.2011.556869. Kelly, Ryan. 2017. "How China's Soft Power Is Building A Neo-Colonial System In Africa." Ketagalan Media. October 15, 2017. Accessed December 05, 2018. http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/10/09/how-chinas-soft-power-isbuilding-a-neo-colonial-system-in-africa/. Kuo, Lily. 2014. "Ecuador's Unhealthy Dependence on China Is about to Get $1.5 Billion Worse." Quartz. August 28, 2014. Accessed December 12, 2018. https://qz.com/256925/ecuadors-unhealthy-dependence-on-china-is-about-toget-1-5-billion-worse/. Narins, Thomas P. 2012. "China’s Eye on Ecuador: What Chinese Trade with Ecuador Reveals about China’s Economic Expansion into South America." The Global Studies Journal 4, no. 2: 295-308. doi:10.18848/1835-4432/cgp/v04i02/40787. Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. "Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal: Will the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?" Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. February, 2015. Accessed
December 14, 2018. http://www.nicaraguasc.org.uk/resources/CanalupdateFeb2015.pdf. Nkrumah, Kwame. 1965. "Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism." Marxists.org. Accessed December 4, 2018. https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/nkrumah/neocolonialism/introduction.htm. Nye, Joseph S. 1990. "Soft Power." Foreign Policy 80: 153-71. Accessed October 7, 2018. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1148580. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People's Republic of China. 2016. “China's Policy Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of People's Republic of China. November 24, 2016. Accessed December 11, 2018. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/2649_665393/t1418254.shtml. Peters, Enrique Dussel, Ariel C. Armony, and Shoujun Cui. 2018. Building Development for a New Era: China’s Infrastructure Projects in Latin American and the Caribbean. Ciudad De Mexico: Asian Studies Center, Center for International Studies. Phillips, Tom. 2015. "Chinese Mogul behind Nicaragua Canal Lost 85% of His Fortune in Stock Market." The Guardian. October 2, 2015. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/02/chinese-mogul-behindnicaragua-canal-lost-85-of-his-fortune-in-stock-market. van Rheenen, Erin. 2018. "Canals Interrupted." Hakai Magazine. August 15, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2018. https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-short/canalsinterrupted/. The Observatory of Economic Complexity. n.d. "Ecuador." OEC. Accessed December 13, 2018. https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/ecu/.
Abstract. In the age of secularism and the drawback of organised religion, modern spirituality has emerged as a new phenomenon straddling the secular and religious sphere from the 1970s onwards. Whereas some scholars argue that modern spirituality exists outside of the political realm and only proves relevant for the private individual, this article argues for its inherently political nature. By drawing on the academic debate led by authors like Boaz Huss and Slavoj ZĚŒizĚŒek, it attempts to illustrate both the politically emancipating and accommodating dimension of modern spirituality, as well as further explore the different strategies for strengthening its counter-cultural and emancipatory potential. In doing so, the article hopes to contribute to the discussion on the increasing relevance of modern spirituality within current political discourse, as well as invite a more careful reading of its political implications. Key words. Modern Spirituality, New Age, Ideology, Secular, Emancipation
n the past decades, religion has increasingly been replaced by new forms of spirituality in the West, which often build on non-Western religions and spiritual traditions. Whereas it seems like the focus of those spiritual forms is on individualisation and the
removal of religion and spirituality from the realm of politics and the public in general, there are various trends and arguments which argue for the opposite. In fact, contemporary forms of spirituality have a big influence on the political and economic sphere and should therefore not be labelled apolitical. This essay will adopt the notion of spirituality as a discursive construct which defines spirituality as being continuously applied, practiced and defined (Huss 2014, 52). Thus, like religion, the way spirituality interacts with other spheres of life varies from context to context. Denying the political nature of modern spirituality can diverge attention from this increasingly important factor in politics and to counterbalance this trend, the following essay will outline the political relevance of modern spirituality. In order to do so, the essay will first analyse the way modern spirituality challenges the common Western dichotomy between the spiritual or religious and the secular, and thus is political by nature as it provides a new sphere of action which concerns both realms and advocates for the adoption of a certain set of principles. Secondly, the emergence of modern spirituality itself is often political and spiritual movements can become political actors which position themselves in opposition to the status-quo. However, under certain circumstances, modern spirituality can become political in a different way and lead to the reinforcement of political conditions by appropriating the individual to insufficient political circumstances. By looking at the way spirituality is integrated into everyday life and the corporate sphere, the possible ideological function of spiritual movements will be demonstrated. Finally, the paper will conclude by suggesting different factors which contribute to making modern spirituality a counter-cultural movement and which can help to prevent modern spirituality from being employed as an appropriating ideology.
Before being able to demonstrate the political nature of modern spirituality, a short introduction to the term itself will be provided, since the meaning and use of the term spirituality have changed over time (Ibid., 50). Whereas spirituality has been contrasted with the corporeal and integrated into the notion of religion in the past, the modern understanding of spirituality is increasingly contrasted with the traditional notion of
religion (Ibid.). In addition, it is now more often associated with the very thing it was distinguished from in the past - the corporeal - and thus certain practices like Yoga or martial arts fall into the category of spirituality (Ibid.). The umbrella term â€œNew Age movementâ€? captures the variety of modern spiritual and religious movements which developed from the 1970s onwards (Ibid., 53). Contemporary spirituality often promotes values such as perennial wisdom and holism as well as self-spirituality (Berghuijs, Bakker and Pieper 2013, 777). However, the New Age movement is overall characterized by the possibility of drawing spiritual or religious traditions and principles from various sources and thus constructing a highly individualized set of beliefs (Aupers and Houtman 2006, 202). Due to this focus on the individual, which is also emphasized by neoliberalism and within capitalism (York 2001, 367), many authors support the argument that modern spiritual movements lack social and political significance (Aupers and Houtman 2006, 202). As this paper will demonstrate, modern spirituality can have both a direct or indirect political role but is politically relevant in any case.
Firstly, in line with the argument made by Boaz Huss, spirituality as such challenges the dichotomy between the religious and the secular and instead creates practices on a middle ground (Huss 2004, 54). The decreasing relevance of categories like the religious and secular can be ascribed to modern capitalism, which gave rise to the modern understanding of spirituality (Huss 2004, 55). Thus, in a way the emergence of modern spirituality depended on the modern evolution of capitalism but in turn challenges one of the core modern assumptions: the religious-secular dichotomy (Ibid.). This renders modern spiritual movements inherently political since they arise from the restructuring of the political sphere as a consequence of globalisation and the decreasing power of the nationstate and create an unknown and novel sphere of life by challenging the religious-secular dichotomy. Unlike representatives of the modernization theory argue, who think that increasing modernization will lead to the disappearance of religion (Ibid.), modern spirituality and the New Age movement provide a new category which exists outside of the dichotomy but has its own political implications. Thus, even the spiritual practices of a single individual challenge this dichotomy and can thus be seen as political. Additionally, spirituality builds social networks and movements which interact with the state and thus make it political.
Further, even the emergence of some modern spiritual movements in the 1960s and 1970s was political in nature. Modern spirituality evolved alongside social, economic and political changes which inherently modified modern society (Ibid., 53), and as a response to societal problems in the West such as the increasing focus on material profit which was accompanied by the deterioration of social relations (Höllinger 2004, 290). Huss (2004, 57) argues that while the New Age movement and neo-liberal movements share significant characteristic overlap due to the fact that they emerged from the same political, social and economic historical framework, spiritual movements do not express a neo-liberal ideology but criticize the current status-quo and can even help in overcoming consumerism and neoliberalism. One example of this is the Dianic Wicca movement which developed from the feminist movement (Finley 1991, 354). Finley (Ibid.) demonstrates that many members of this movement associate their spirituality with increased political engagement. While not all individuals were recorded to have high political engagement, the data showed that many members of the Dianic Wicca cult are indeed politically active despite their supposed focus on the self within their practices (Ibid., 356). In addition, New Age leaders like Marilyn Ferguson believe that New Age consciousness will silently transform society and thus change social and political ideologies as well as change the economic framework of society (Höllinger 2004, 290). Höllinger’s (Ibid., 305) study on the political, social and moral attitudes of New Age members even empirically demonstrates that the level of political engagement of New Age members is on average higher than that of the normal population. When spirituality is adopted by political movements and appropriated for the movement’s political purposes, contemporary spirituality can be used for political purposes and thus itself becomes political. In addition, practitioners of contemporary spirituality hold certain ideals and beliefs, and some of them wish to see those ideals projected onto society at large and thus can be tied to social and political movements, or encourage political activism. This indicates that spirituality leaves the private sphere and enters the public sphere as soon as it lays claim to the right way of doing things, which in effect makes contemporary spirituality political. Contrastingly, scholars and philosophers like Žižek, Lau and Adorno argue that New Age spirituality functions as an ideology and that new forms of spirituality, which are no longer associated with political movements, lose some of their active political character after their original vision has been lost through the increasing popularity of spiritual
methods and their use for corporate and commercial purposes (Ibid., 291-292). However, even the less collective and organized form of modern spirituality is still highly political, as it can serve to continue the political status-quo and keep in place power structures within the world.
Spirituality can play an important role within the private sphere and the workplace. As a part of cultural practices, spirituality has become increasingly commodified and entered the market with the goal of appealing to the individual (Huss 2004, 47-48). Thus, through capitalism, globalization and increased education, choosing one’s own religion or spirituality has become an option (York 2001, 361), and new religious movements have increasingly entered the spheres of education, business and even the military (Finley 1991, 350). The increased commodification of spirituality and spiritual practices in itself reflects a political issue, since practices like Yoga can mostly be practiced by members of the middle and upper class, which reflects the gap between the rich and the poor within society (Lau 2000, 135). In addition, personal consumption of practices like Yoga, alternative medicine and sustainable food or clothing, turn the focus of the individual to collective and individual care and away from social and political concerns (Ibid.). As Žižek (2006, 242) argues, all modern religions serve “postmodern pleasure seeking”. While attributing social relevance to their actions seems to make them political, the focus on the individual once more distracts from actual problems like the insufficiency of welfare states (Lau 200, 135136). Thus, even though modern spiritual practices might appeal to the individual by seeming political, they can often obscure the actual problems society should be dealing with. Therefore, modern spiritual practices which are not directly connected to political movements might still seem to constitute political actions, for example when buying organic meat in order to take action against the meat industry, but rather assume a political character because their increased popularity and use by various actors distracts from more fundamental social and political issues like the general overconsumption of meat within society. Even though it can be argued that individual ‘political’ acts like this will have an overall beneficial political value and should thus not be discredited, it is rather the question of whether the individual is aware of the underlying commodification of spirituality and the way this diverges attention from larger concerns that this paper is interested in.
In addition, when looking at how corporations increasingly adopt mindfulness measures, it becomes clear that modern spirituality can have an accommodating effect rather than one leading to political change. Purser and Milillo (2015, 19) argue that modern interpretations of Buddhism mainly serve corporate interests and represent a distorted version of the original Buddhist teachings of ethical sensitivity, moral development and altruism. While the corporate world tends to provide opportunities to practice distorted forms of mindfulness and focuses on using modern appropriations of Buddhism to increase attention, traditional Buddhism is based on the notion of an eight-fold-path and aims at eliminating negative mentalities in order to support human flourishing and altruistic behavior (Ibid., 7). They draw on a paper by Driscoll and Wiebe who argue that mindfulness is increasingly turned into a form of technical spirituality where its deeper soteriological meaning is overlooked in favor of its practical value of improving productivity and efficiency (Ibid., 16). Thus, Buddhist meditation is re-appropriated outside of its original context to fit corporate goals while ignoring its deeply rooted ethical nature. By introducing mindfulness workshops based on an appropriated notion of Buddhism, corporate entities construct stress as a personal problem and therefore shift the responsibility of dealing with a harmful work environment from the corporation itself to the individual (Ibid.). Practices of spirituality allow the individual to retreat from their oppressive and uncertain job environment and can become a “‘human-centered’ safetyvalve for corporate capitalism” by apparently providing security, appreciation or the feeling of being ‘alternative’ to the worker and thus keeping in place the conditions which make spiritual practices necessary in the first place. (Carrette 2005, 134-135). As Žižek (2001) argues, spiritual fetishes like Western Buddhism continue to place the employee “in capitalist dynamics while retaining the appearance of mental sanity”. In this way, contemporary forms of spirituality can become political as a form of ideology which supports the modern domination of capitalism and neoliberalism and thus reinforces the general political framework of modern society while obscuring major political and social concerns.
In conclusion, modern spirituality is inherently political as it changes the modern dichotomy of the religious and the secular by emerging as a separate category interacting
with each part of the dichotomy, which projects it directly into the political sphere. Additionally, it can assume two different political characters and either directly inspire political action against the contemporary status-quo or lead people to focus on their own life through using spirituality as a “coping mechanism to reduce the stresses of modern social life” in which case it can be seen as an ideological concept serving the self-interest of the self or of corporations within a bigger capitalist and neoliberal framework (Finley 1991, 350). In line with the argument of various scholars, this paper holds that neither version of being political applies to all forms of contemporary spirituality. Rather, it is important to analyze the different contexts in which spiritual movements and practices evolve and take place and the specific relationship between the spiritual or religious and the political (Ibid., 351). Therefore, it can be helpful to look at some of the factors that seem to encourage political action through modern spirituality rather than turning it into an accommodating factor. Building on her analysis of the feminist Dianic Wicca movement, Henley argues that in order for a new spiritual movement to inspire political action it has to have an ideological component which is able to increase efficacy, as well as be situated among an oppressed part of the population so that the increased efficacy can be used towards challenging the system rather than supporting it (Ibid., 353). Dianic Wicca focuses on being able to achieve the reality one wants to achieve and thus reflects the principle of efficacy (Ibid., 358). In addition, members of the Dianic Wicca movement avoid central hierarchy and support individual engagement with the Divine as well as individual participation (Ibid.). It seems as if the focus and structure of the spiritual movement play an important role in determining whether or not it will inspire counter-cultural action. However, Höllinger (2004) finds that New Age activists hold different political attitudes and he distinguishes between an activist involved in the spiritual movement with the goal of self-perfection or with the goal of gaining esoteric self-knowledge. Whereas the first type focuses on ethical self-perfection and their political and social attitudes tend to agree with a lot of liberal values, the latter type tends to lead a more narcissistic and hedonistic lifestyle (Höllinger 2004, 305-306). Thus, entering a spiritual movement with the goal of self-perfection seems to lead to a more ethical political engagement. In addition, variables like connectedness and spiritual transformation which are closely associated with new spirituality and traditional religion lead to greater social engagement
in general, in comparison with people who distance themselves from supernatural beliefs (Berghuijs, Bakker and Pieper 2013, 775-792). Further, as the analysis of Western Buddhism shows, modern spirituality often appropriates only parts of East Asian traditions. However, if practiced correctly, Buddhism can help challenge modern capitalism and help people to become aware of the ways in which specific corporate policies and products might originally lead to stress and harm (Purser and Milillo 2015, 18). Therefore, focusing more on the roots of spiritual traditions rather than the Western interpretation given to them through corporations or the media can prevent their instrumentalization as an accommodating method. Altogether, spirituality is a highly personal commitment to many people. However, as this paper has argued, modern spirituality has an inherently political character. Becoming aware of the way individual spirituality is lived as well as the way it has been commodified and can be instrumentalized in modern society is crucial in order to gain a better understanding of modern politics. The political character of modern spirituality should not be neglected, and it is essential to understand the influence modern spirituality can have on society in order to encourage a use of spirituality as a counter-cultural tool rather than as an appropriating method. After all, awareness means being one step closer to change.
Aupers, Stef, and Dick Houtman. 2006. "Beyond the Spiritual Supermarket: The Social and Public Significance of New Age Spirituality." Journal of Contemporary Religion 21, no. 2: 201-222. Berghuijs, Joantine, Cok Bakker and Jos Pieper. 2013. "New Spirituality and Social Engagement." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 52, no .4: 775-92. Carrette, Jeremy R. and Richard King. 2005. Selling Spirituality: The Silent Takeover of Religion. London: Routledge. Finley, Nancy J. 1991. "Political Activism and Feminist Spirituality." Sociological Analysis 52, no. 4: 349- 362. Huss, Boaz. 2014. "Spirituality: The Emergence of a New Cultural Category and Its Challenge to the Religious and the Secular.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 29, no.1: 47-60. Höllinger, Franz. 2004. "Does the Counter-cultural Character of New Age Persist? Investigating Social and Political Attitudes of New Age Followers." Journal of Contemporary Religion 19, no.3: 289-309. Lau, Kimberly J. 2000. New Age Capitalism. Making Money East of Eden. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Purser, Ronald E. and Joseph Milillo.2015. "Mindfulness Revisited: A Buddhist-Based Conceptualization." Journal of Management Inquiry 24, no.1: 3-24. York, Michael. 2001. "New Age Commodification and Appropriation of Spirituality." Journal of Contemporary Religion 16, no.3: 361-72. Žižek, Slavoj. 2001. “From Western Marxism to Western Buddhism.” Cabinet, no. 2. http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/2/western.php. Žižek, Slavoj. 2006. “Passion in the Era of Decaffeinated Belief.” In Religion and Political Thought, ed. by Michael Hoelzl and Graham Ward, 237-242. London: Continuum.
Abstract. ‘Cash Me Ousside’ Girl Danielle Bregoli is an American teenager that appeared on the Dr. Phil talk show in 2016. Aside from displaying Bregoli’s bad behavior, this episode went viral on the internet because of Bregoli’s manner of speaking, which strongly resembles African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Subsequently, Bregoli was able to financially profit from her internet fame by selling merchandise with her infamous catchphrase “Cash Me Ousside” and starring in a music video. As a result of this financial benefit, Bregoli was accused of using her white privilege to generate income. Consequently, this paper performs a linguistic analysis to establish whether Bregoli in fact uses a form of AAVE, followed by a discussion of the possibility of Bregoli’s use of white privilege. This paper then concludes that while Bregoli does engage in cultural appropriation, the link to white privilege is less clear given her poor socioeconomic background. Key words. Linguistics, AAVE, Social Media, Sociolinguistics
n September 2016, at just thirteen years old, Danielle Bregoli, better known as ‘Cash Me Ousside’ girl, appeared on a Dr. Phil episode centered on troubled teenagers and their parents. However, it was not until a few months later in January 2017 that the
episode received attention from the press (Google Trends 2019). By February, the short video clip where Bregoli exclaim her notorious catchphrase ‘Cash Me Ousside’ for the first
time on the Dr. Phil episode had been mass-circulated around social media. Her subsequent fame led to numerous critiques within the media surrounding her usage of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) since the girl appears to be Caucasian. Consequently, scholars have drawn a clear link between the phenomenon and cultural appropriation (Woehr 2017). However, the extent to which Bregoli’s utterance and subsequent rise to fame is an example of white privilege, which is defined as the opportunities and advantages that while people are given at the expense of other minority groups, is unclear (Blakemore 2017, 8-9). Several examples point to white privilege, such as through Bregoli’s ability to financially profit from her manner of speaking. Yet, whether or not Bregoli engages in white privilege is problematized when one considers the influence of her socioeconomic background on her speech. This essay investigates this issue in multiple parts. First, the paper introduces Bregoli’s speech and her perceived usage of AAVE. Next, the matter of cultural appropriation is assessed, followed by a discussion of whether Bregoli’s ability to financially profit from the media frenzy points to white privilege. Finally, Bregoli’s socioeconomic background is described in order to problematize the link between white privilege and ‘Cash Me Ousside.’ The essay concludes with the point that while Bregoli engages in cultural appropriation, it is unclear whether this exemplifies white privilege.
In the now famous video clip of the Dr. Phil TV show, its host “Dr. Phil” McGraw asks Bregoli: “Catch you outside? What does that mean?” right after she blurted out her now famous catchphrase to the audience of his live-recorded television show (Dr. Phil 2016). According to Bregoli’s mother, “Cash me ousside, how bow dah?” translates to “she will go outside and do what she has to do” (Ibid.). The language that Bregoli appears to be using, not only in this fragment but in almost all audibly recorded video or music clips, is AAVE, which is “a variety spoken by many African-Americans in the USA which shares a set of grammatical and other linguistic features that distinguish it from other American dialects” (Fought 2006, 46). While various journalists and bloggers have already stated that Bregoli’s use of AAVE sounds considerably “ridiculous,” it is considered recognizable enough to spark outrage amongst many (Zimmerman 2017). In particular, Bregoli frequently uses the common zero copula while speaking, which is a grammatical feature of AAVE where the third person singular or plural copula is deleted, exemplified when she proclaims “I know where the car at” in the episode (Fought 2006, 48; Dr. Phil 2016). In tandem, she utilizes “ain’t” for negation multiple times, aligning with AAVE (Dr. Phil
2016). An example to substantiate this is her use of the negative concord combined with “ain’t,” such as the sentences “Jail ain’t nothin’” and “Ain’t nobody gon’ catch me” (Fought 2006, 49). Moreover, concerning the phonological aspects of Bregoli’s speech, the teenager uses a glottal stop “in,” as exemplified in her exclamation “She’ll threa-in me,” while the standard English variant would be “She’ll threaten me” (50). Furthermore, in the television fragment, Bregoli merges tense and lax vowels when she states, “I steal cars, I steal her credit-card,” pronouncing the word “steal” as “still” in accordance with AAVE (Dr. Phil 2016). Regarding her catchphrase, Bregoli uses final consonant cluster reduction, where the “t” of “about” is removed while simultaneously leaving out the “a” in “about,” which leads to Bregoli’s pronunciation of the words “how about” as “how bow” (Fought 2006, 51). A similar pattern emerges with the word “outside” where Bregoli leaves out the “t” sound in “out” which makes it sound like she pronounces the word as “auside” or even “ausiy” in another instance. Upon considering the fact that the phonological, grammatical and linguistic features used above are factually considered to be features of AAVE speech, it can be argued that there is reason to believe that Bregoli uses a form of AAVE.
Given that Bregoli can be classified as a Caucasian based on her skin color, her usage of AAVE, which stems from African American culture, indicates a form of cultural appropriation. This term can be defined as the act of taking from a culture that is not your own (Schneider 2003, 216-219). Several social media posts concur with this argument, condemning her apparent usage of AAVE. For example, a tweet stated “[I am] pretty sure [she is] becoming rich and famous for badly mimicking black culture which is exactly the expectation for white girls,” receiving multiple retweets indicating that many people agreed with this view (Woehr 2017). Yet, irrespective of her cultural appropriation, the predominant critique seems to be her financial exploitation through the use of AAVE. Koul’s (2017) article highlights this by pointing to the financial benefits that have struck Bregoli since her notoriety. At the time of writing, Bregoli had recently launched her first online merchandise store, which contained $250 blankets with pictures of Bregoli’s face that were quickly sold out. Further, Bregoli starred in the hip-hop music video of the well-known rapper Kodak Black, which had obtained over 38 million views and added to her fame (WorldstarHipHop 2017). In her article, Koul (2017) predominantly appears to justify Bregoli’s decision to profit from the
“humiliating entertainment” she receives from the media, similar to Dr. Phil, who profited from Bregoli’s controversial behavior by producing the episode. In contrast, African Americans who use AAVE on a daily basis are often criticized and discriminated against for doing so (Bubman 2017). Despite the fact that AAVE was recognized as a dialect for the first time in the public-school system in the Ann Arbor Decision of 1979, these prejudices towards the speech of some African Americans still exist (Bountress 1982, 79). In particular within education, AAVE-speaking children have been significantly disadvantaged and discriminated against, hindering their academic success (Green 2002, 217). Similarly, in the workplace and housing markets, AAVE-speaking individuals face discrimination, presenting an obstacle to their success (Rickford 2015, 11817). A possible explanation for this could be that many people still associate AAVE with “slang” or “broken English” (Pearson, Conner and Jackson 2013, 34). However, Bregoli too is critiqued for the way she speaks. The fact that McGraw expresses his confusion about Bregoli’s manner of speaking in the video fragment, which is represented by his query “You speak in English?” is very striking. After McGraw asks this question, he then proceeds to ask Bregoli whether she “speak(s) an accent of some sort.” This may be seen as ironic by some, considering that McGraw is a Texan and is well-known for his Southern American English accent, which shares several linguistic features with AAVE (Picone and Davies 2015, 153). Nevertheless, the notion of Bregoli’s accent being mocked and addressed as being “an accent of some sort” is telling of the standard approach towards AAVE that applies to all those who use AAVE. Yet, the difference between African Americans who utilize AAVE and Bregoli is her skin color and the subsequent fame she received. However, it remains unclear whether Bregoli intentionally attempts to engage in white privilege. Given that Bregoli mentions her “accent” comes “from the streets” (Dr. Phil 2016), it cannot be validated whether Bregoli’s first language is factually AAVE or whether her speech happens to be a performance. As such, the implication is that Bregoli may genuinely rely on AAVE as her first language, which she acquired in the environment that she resided in as a young girl. It is also possible that she may have experienced the same disadvantages in class as African Americans that speak AAVE, exemplified by the fact that she stopped going to school in the seventh grade. As such, it is hard to definitively determine how big of a role race plays in Bregoli’s case and consequently if she actively chooses to engage in white privilege.
In conclusion, it is evident that Bregoli’s use of AAVE exemplifies cultural appropriation. However, whether she actively engages in white privilege remains less clear given her socio-economic background. Nonetheless, Bregoli’s case proves that AAVE is still not recognized as an actual complex language system but is in fact usually seen as “broken English.” All things considered, whether Bregoli does wrong by using the negative attention centered around her to make financial profit will not be apparent until Bregoli clearly states whether her language use is an act or if it is real. For now, Bregoli’s case proves that the issues concerning the use of AAVE in society are worth exploring.
Allen, Felix. 2017. “Cash Me Ousside Girl Denies Her Mum Was Beating Her up in Shocking Video.” The Sun, March 24, 2017. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3172477/cashme-ousside-girl-danielle-bregoli-denies-being-beaten-video/. Blakemore, M. T. 2017. White Privilege. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Publishing. Blay, Zeba. 2017. “What The Viral Fame Of The ‘Cash Me Ousside’ Girl Says About Us.” Huffington Post, March 8, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-the-viralfame-of-the-cash-me-ousside-girl-says-aboutus_n_58c01d90e4b0ed718268bea3?guccounter=1. Bountress, Nicholas G. 1982. “Educational Implications of the Ann Arbor Decision.” Educational Horizons 60, no. 2: 79–82. Bubman, Morgan. 2017. “The Double Standards of Cultural Appropriation.” The Bottom Line, February 22, 2017. https://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2017/02/how-blackculture-is-exploited-in-memes-copy-headline-plz. Dr. Phil. 2016. 13-Year-Old Says Mom Will Do Anything To Stop Her From Having Fun. YouTube Video, 4:06. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyUFzNVolG8. Fought, Carmen. 2006. Language and Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Google Trends.” n.d. Google Trends. Accessed May 15, 2019. https://trends.google.nl/trends/explore?date=today%205y&q=cash%20me%20ousside%20how%20bow%20dah. Green, Lisa J. 2002. African American English: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Koul, Scaachi. 2017. “How The ‘Cash Me Ousside’ Teen Defies Expectations For White Girls.” Buzzfeed News, March 4, 2017. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/scaachikoul/how-the-cash-me-oussideteen-defies-expectations-for-white-g. Meara, Paul. 2017. “This Article On The ‘Cash Me Ousside’ Teen Has Sparked An Intense Debate About White Women’s Privilege.” BET, March 5, 2017. http://www.betintl.co.uk/. Musumeci, Natalie. 2017. “‘Cash Me Outside’ Girl Reportedly Punched Spirit Airlines Passenger.” Fox News, February 7, 2017. https://www.foxnews.com/travel/cash-meoutside-girl-reportedly-punched-spirit-airlines-passenger.
Pearson, Barbara Zurer, Tracy Conner and Janice E. Jackson. 2013. “Removing Obstacles for African American English-Speaking Children through Greater Understanding of Language Difference.” Developmental Psychology 49, no. 1: 31–44. Picone, Michael D. and Catherine Evans Davies. 2015. New Perspectives on Language Variety in the South: Historical and Contemporary Approaches. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. Rickford, John R., Greg J. Duncan, Lisa A. Gennetian, Ray Yun Gou, Rebecca Greene, Lawrence F. Katz, Ronald C. Kessler et al. 2015. "Neighborhood effects on use of African-American Vernacular English." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 38: 11817-11822. Schneider, Arnd. 2003. “On ‘Appropriation’: A Critical Reappraisal of the Concept and Its Application in Global Art Practices.” Social Anthropology 11, no. 2: 215–29. Woehr, Jelena. Twitter Post. March 14, 2017. https://twitter.com/jelenawoehr/status/838078770791657473. WorldstarHipHop. 2017. Kodak Black “Everything 1K” (Starring Danielle Bregoli “Cash Me Ousside”) (WSHH Exclusive). YouTube Video, 2:07. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYyPqme2wZU. Zimmerman, Amy. 2017. “‘Cash Me Outside’ Girl Danielle Bregoli Isn’t the Celebrity We Need Right Now.” The Daily Beast, March 9, 2017. https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/03/09/cash-me-outside-girldanielle-bregoli-isn-t-the-celebrity-we-need-right-now.
Abstract. Similar to most other organized sports, ice hockey is an important arena within which hegemonic masculinity is negotiated and sustained. Since such masculinity has become an ideal that is almost impossible to attain, this concept has evolved to include another form, namely inclusive masculinity, which excludes the heterosexist elements of hegemonic masculinity. Within hockey, it is unclear which of these masculinities is more common. As such, this paper analyzes the webcomic Check, Please! to explore how it challenges current conceptions of masculinity and sexuality in hockey culture. Through the study of several scenes in the webcomic, it becomes clear that it views inclusive masculinity to be more prevalent within the hockey clubs whilst hegemonic masculinity prevails within the wider fan base. Key words. Canada, Sexuality, Gender, Comic, Textual Analysis.
ports teams and comic books are not generally associated with one another as they and their fans have their own separate spaces. This makes the popularity of Check, Please!, an online comic strip about a college ice hockey team, all the more
unexpected. This webcomic was designed by Ngozi Ukazu and first published in 2013 on a
free blogging platform although it currently has its own website (Ukazu 2013; Ukazu 2017a). The comic is mainly popular outside of the hockey community with a large following in online fan communities (Lawson 2017). Despite this, the comic strip is relevant to the hockey community as one of Ukazu’s biggest goals is to create a hypothetical situation in which LGBTQ+ hockey players are more widely represented through fiction, as this is a topic that has gained increasing attention in recent years (Hagerty 2018). Check, Please! tells the story of Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a freshman at Samwell University, a small liberal arts college in New England, and a player on the varsity hockey team. The first season of the webcomic focuses on his first year, namely his experiences with the other hockey players and college hockey culture from the perspective of a closeted gay player (Ukazu 2017a). As the story progresses, Bitty gradually comes out to his fellow teammates without most of the negative backlash he expected. Season two continues with Bitty’s second year at Samwell, focusing on Bitty’s growing friendship with the team’s captain, Jack Zimmermann, as well as Jack’s life. Jack is the son of legendary Canadian hockey player “Bad” Bob Zimmermann, who had unfortunately missed out on the National Hockey League (NHL) draft due to substance abuse while on a Major Junior team in Quebec (Ibid.). At the end of the second season, Jack kisses Bitty after his graduation and the two start a romantic relationship. Starting in the third season, Jack plays at the professional level for a fictitious NHL team, the Providence Falconers, while simultaneously hiding his relationship with Bitty from the team and organization (Ibid.). Jack gradually comes out in private during a later episode in the season, which ends with Jack and Bitty coming out to the public by kissing in front of a few camera crews. The fourth season, which is still ongoing, concerns the repercussions of Jack and Bitty’s kiss, as well as Bitty’s final year at university (Ibid.). This paper explores how Check, Please! discusses current conceptions of masculinity and sexuality in hockey culture. Firstly, previous research on masculinity and sexuality in sports is discussed, with a focus on hockey. Following this, the paper analyzes the content of the comic, namely how it views masculinity and sexuality, as well as how it portrays hockey culture. Finally, the essay attempts to evaluate whether the conclusions of past academic research correspond to the image created in the comic, determining whether and how Check, Please! challenges hockey culture..
A large amount of what society perceives as masculinity consists of the behavior that men and boys learn from each other in male-only spaces. Anderson (2008, 273; 2009b) argues that this socialization in male-only spaces has led to the emergence of misogynistic and sexist cultural norms which uphold the idea that men are superior to women. Furthermore, the author argues that it creates an ideal type of masculinity that is unattainable, and thus harmful, for the majority of individuals (Anderson 2009b, 4). This idea of a harmful masculine ideal was first popularized in academia by Connell in the mid-1980s as hegemonic masculinity (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005, 832). In an attempt to modernize the concept, Connell and Messerschmidt (2005) define hegemonic masculinity as consisting of multiple forms of masculinity and that these forms are placed within a hierarchy (Ibid., 846). The authors further posit that the concept needs to evolve in the twenty-first century for a variety of reasons (Ibid., 846-848). Most relevant here is the acknowledged role of the body in establishing a hierarchy of masculinities. This is because the body is perceived to be vital in delineating the practices that make up masculine behavior as it is the typical physical embodiment of the masculine ideal (Ibid.). As such, organized sports plays a significant role in this process because of their physical nature (Ibid., 851). In response to Connell’s concept and in light of evolving views on gender and sexuality, Anderson (2009a) developed the concept of inclusive masculinity which rejects the idea that there can only be one dominant form of masculinity. Instead, Anderson (Ibid.) argues that under certain conditions, multiple masculinities can be viewed as equal. Looking primarily at sports teams, in this instance, cheerleaders, he identifies a strong decrease in “homohysteria,” a term he coins to describe a more manic version of homophobia. As such, this has led to two coexisting masculinities: an orthodox type, similar to the one identified by Connell (2005) and Robidoux (2001) and an inclusive type, which still exhibits some characteristics from Connell’s original concept but leaves out the strongly heterosexist element (Anderson 2009a, 96). Organized sports have been segregated by sex since their establishment, including within hockey. In his discussions on the continuation of gender segregation and masculinity in sports, Anderson (2008, 273; 2009b) finds that the culture in male organized sports, at all skill and age levels, is founded upon the notion that boys learn what it means to be men in these kinds of clubs. Often, this learned behavior takes the form of
hegemonic masculinity. Hegemonic masculinity plays a key role in Robidoux’s (2001) discussion on masculinity in professional hockey as part of his investigation into an American Hockey League (AHL) team. He asserts that hegemonic masculinity within hockey teams is based around two things: firstly, an ability to consistently play strongly and aggressively for the team, representing the ideal male body (Ibid.). On a more interpersonal level in the team, however, explicit talk about women and sex is as relevant as on-ice performance. These conversations are often denigrating to women and additionally help establish an atmosphere that enhances the development of malesuperiority complexes and embraces heteronormativity as the standard (Ibid., 148). In this way, such behavior is perceived as being typically masculine and thus is part of the orthodox form of hegemonic masculinity. However, later research indicates that inclusive masculinity is becoming increasingly common as many professional sports players are more likely to accept having teammates with different sexual orientations (Adams & Anderson 2012). For example, Anderson (2011) noted an increase in friendly attitudes towards homosexuality, especially amongst the younger generations (264). Furthermore, when researching the reactions to a player on a university-level team coming out as gay, Adams and Anderson (2012, 360) find that when faced directly with homosexuality in their team, players are more likely to remain positive, thus further enhancing the concept of inclusive masculinity. Despite this, Anderson (2011, 251) does note that few athletes that play team sports do come out as gay to begin with.
Check, Please! portrays the hegemonic masculinity identified in the aforementioned research in numerous ways. The first few episodes of the first season devote a significant amount of attention to Bitty’s refusal to perform or receive a body check, a physically intrusive aspect of hockey, since he had only played in a co-ed league that banned such techniques (Ukazu 2017c). In the comic strip, Bitty’s fear of being hit is regarded as irrational by the other characters, especially Jack who is very critical of the situation due to his own understanding of hegemonic masculinity. As such, Jack initially shuns Bitty and excludes him from his personal social circle (Ukazu 2017d). However, despite Bitty’s refusal to comply with the ideals and norms of hegemonic masculinity, Bitty bonds with some of the other team members that comply with the expectations of hegemonic masculinity (Ukazu 2017e). Here it becomes evident that the comic strip intentionally subverted the expectation that Bitty would receive an orthodox
response from his team members. This is further exemplified through the team’s acceptance of a female character, Lardo, who is introduced in the first season as an art student and the team’s manager at the start of the spring semester. Simply by being female and not an athlete, she falls far outside the hegemonic ideal of masculinity, yet she maintains a strong familial bond with the team. It is worth noting that Bitty, who had heard of Lardo but had not met her during the first half of his first year, had assumed that she was a physically imposing man. Whilst the rest of the team had a positive image of Lardo, Bitty had assumed that this was the case because she fit the ideal type within hockey culture (Ukazu 2017h). Similarly, the portrayal of Bitty and Jack’s sexuality follows the same route of creating expectations of traditional attitudes and then subverting them. The end of the first half of the first season tells the story of Bitty coming out to Shitty, an older teammate. After coming out, Bitty expresses that he was worried about the team’s reaction, to which Shitty replies: “Jesus Christ, we're your fucking teammates! Your friends!” (Ukazu 2017g). This implies that their connection through hockey should have made Bitty feel more comfortable about sharing his sexuality, in contrast to the expectations demanded by orthodox hegemonic masculinity. These sentiments are extended to the professional hockey realm in season three when Jack comes out to Marty, an alternate captain and one of the veteran players on the team. Marty is supportive of Jack but clearly not used to the situation because his first reaction was to ask whether Jack is joking (Ukazu 2017j). Overall, the reactions to Jack being non-heterosexual are positive within the professional hockey community, despite the comic strip initially building the idea that coming out would ruin his career. Outside of the main seasons, Ukazu has also published a series of related comics, Hockey Shit with Ransom and Holster, about two minor characters that do not fall into the main narrative. The intent is to explain certain terms and phenomena within hockey culture, mainly to inform the audience of the main comics about practices they would not be familiar with as outsiders to the hockey community. Most of these comics show some of the ways that hegemonic masculinity in hockey presents itself. The comic concerning the locker room, for example, discusses the importance of the locker room to the extent of deification and idealizes the way the space becomes an embodiment of masculinity. Here, unlike in the outside world, actions such as spitting on the carpet and insulting each other’s mothers become socially acceptable (Ukazu 2017b).
Check, Please! attempts to construct a realistic portrayal of the experiences of a homosexual hockey player. The environment within which these players, first Bitty and later Jack as well, view themselves in is very similar to the circumstances brought forth by Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity. Most of Bitty’s struggles in his time on the Samwell hockey team concerned the opinions and reactions of his teammates and coaches. This applies both to his masculinity, in the form of physical interactions, and his sexuality. Although Bitty feared that he would be removed from the team for refusing to take part in the expected body checks, this does not occur. Instead, Jack helped Bitty overcome his fear of body checking. Nonetheless, Bitty continued to refrain from engaging in the practice given his discomfort with the method because he was taught to play hockey in a different and less intrusive manner (Ukazu 2017f; Ukazu 2017i). Throughout this process, Bitty did not attempt to transform his character into one that aligns with that of the stereotypical hockey player but instead maintained his own understanding of masculinity (Ibid.). Similarly, while Bitty was afraid of being excluded socially due to his sexual orientation, his teammates readily accepted him. In both instances, Ukazu builds up certain expectations that fit within orthodox hegemonic masculinity as defined by Anderson (2009) but then defies such impressions by instead showing reactions that are in line with inclusive hegemonic masculinity. Jack’s experiences follow a similar path as he and Bitty both felt the need to hide their relationship due to Jack’s career in the NHL. Given that this applies to the teammates and other employees at the Providence Falconers, as well as the team’s fan base, Ukazu seems to imply that Jack is living within a heteronormative environment that would be unaccepting of his sexual orientation as even other players assume that he has a girlfriend and question him about it. Nonetheless, Ukazu again subverts these expectations when Jack’s teammates react positively to his sexuality once he comes out. As a result, Ukazu has created a team with an inclusive form of hegemonic masculinity, this time at the highest level of professional hockey. The only instance when Ukazu creates an orthodox hegemonic atmosphere that complies with more negative expectations concerning her characters is when they come out to the general public. The final season, which is still ongoing, focuses on the repercussions of Jack and Bitty’s sexuality being revealed to the wider public. Here, clear elements appear of the more orthodox expression of hegemonic masculinity as can be seen
in the questions Jack receives at a press conference where the reporters were not supportive in the way the two teams had been, peppering him with questions about his relationship and his place within his team (Ukazu 2018). Thus, in its portrayal of different forms of hegemonic masculinity through people’s reactions to the sexual orientation of players, the comic strip clearly indicates that it is the attitude of the general public, rather than those directly involved in the sport, that uphold the homophobic image attached to hockey.
To conclude, Check, Please! is a small-scale online webcomic about the experiences of gay hockey players that depicts two hockey teams at different levels: both professional and at the college-level. Both teams prescribe to an inclusive form of hegemonic masculinity as the team members are accepting of both Bitty’s and Jack’s sexuality. The only place where Ukazu illustrates a form of orthodox hegemonic masculinity is in the larger NHL fan base given that the general public appeared to be less supportive and more intrusive regarding their personal lives. Thus, whilst many of the NHL’s efforts to foster LGBTQ+ inclusion have focused on attitudes within the league, this comic emphasizes that inclusivity issues in sports originate from the fan base, which could possibly explain why there are no out LGBTQ+ players in the NHL (CBC Sports 2017). Hence, while the webcomic was not intended for the hockey community necessarily, it can educate those in the hockey community about hockey culture’s relationship to masculinity and sexuality.
Adams, Adi and Eric Anderson. 2012. “Exploring the Relationship between Homosexuality and Sport among the Teammates of a Small, Midwestern Catholic College Soccer Team.” Sport, Education and Society 17, no. 3: 347-63. Anderson, Eric. 2008. ““I Used to Think Women Were Weak”: Orthodox Masculinity, Gender Segregation, and Sport.” Sociological Forum 23, no. 2: 257-80. Anderson, Eric. 2009a. Inclusive Masculinity: The Changing Nature of Masculinities. New York: Routledge. Anderson, Eric. 2009b. “The Maintenance of Masculinity Among the Stakeholders of Sport.” Sport Management Review 12, no. 1: 3-14. Anderson, Eric. 2011. “Updating the Outcome: Gay Athletes, Straight Teams, and Coming Out in Educationally Based Sport Teams.” Gender and Society 25, no. 2: 250-68. Cullen, Matthew. 2017. “NHL, You Can Play Spread Message of Inclusion.” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, February 24, 2017. https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/you-can-play-hockey-is-for-everyone1.3995050. Connell, R.W. and James W. Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.” Gender and Society 19, no. 6: 829-59. Hagerty, Michael. 2018. “Check, Please! How a Web Comic About Hockey and Baking Went Viral.” Houston Public Media, November 1, 2018. https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/shows/houstonmatters/2018/11/01/310102/check-please/. Lawson, Emma 2017. “Hockey and Happy Endings: ‘Check Please’ Creator Ngozi Ukazu on Finding Another Way into Sports.” Comics Alliance, March 16, 2017. http://comicsalliance.com/ngozi-ukazu-check-please-interview/. Robidoux, Michael A. 2001. Men at Play: A Working Understanding of Professional Hockey. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2013. “Check, Please!” Check, Please! Comic. August 8, 2013. omgcheckplease.tumblr.com/post/57705111693. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017a. “Check, Please!” Check, Please! Comic. Accessed November 27, 2018. checkpleasecomic.com.
Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017b. “Hockey Shit with Ransom & Holster, Locker Room.” Check, Please! Comic, March 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/ hockey-shit-lockerroom-1. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017c. “Season 1: Freshman Year, 3: The Coaches.” Check, Please! Comic, February 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/01-03-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017d. “Season 1: Freshman Year, 5: Bad Bob Zimmerman.” Check, Please! Comic, February 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/01-05-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017e. “Season 1: Freshman Year, 7: Assist!” Check, Please! Comic, February 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/01-07-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017f. “Season 1: Freshman Year, 8: Checking Clinic.” Check, Please! Comic, February 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/01-08-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017g. “Season 1: Freshman Year, 14: The Closet Story – Part 2.” Check, Please! Comic, February 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/01-14-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017h. “Season 1: Freshman Year, 15: Lardo.” Check, Please! Comic, February 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/01-15-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017i. “Season 3: Junior Year, 4: Home Opener.” Check, Please! Comic, March 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/03-04-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2017j. “Season 3: Junior Year, 15: Dinner at Marty’s?” Check, Please! Comic, March 1, 2017. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/03-15-01. Ukazu, Ngoki. 2018. “Season 4: Senior Year, 3: Presser.” Check, Please! Comic, June 22, 2018. http://checkpleasecomic.com/comic/4-03-01.
Abstract. This essay investigates the World Bank’s and International Monetary Fund’s involvement in urban water privatization projects in Ghana. It adopts a critical political economy perspective by including an analysis of the underlying power relationship between the Bretton Woods institutions and the Ghanaians and institutions' interference in Ghanaian domestic politics and the effect on state sovereignty. It demonstrates that the international hegemonic economic institutions’ loan conditions and privatization projects of the urban water supply service have been unfavorable for the Ghanaians. It analyzes the changes in urban water prices and supply coverage and corruption scandals during water privatization preparations. Furthermore, it investigates Ghana’s disadvantageous dependency on transnational financial institutions. The essay argues that the Bretton Woods institutions are increasingly exercising a parallel authority alongside the Ghanaian government in matters of economic water management which did not allow the local political authorities to create an effective and pragmatic national water policy accounting for the interest of its citizens.. Key words. Political Economy, Africa, Neoliberalism, Water Management
ater privatization remains a highly controversial topic in the 21st century. To foster economic development while alleviating poverty in a country, improvements in the infrastructure may be necessary and best realized
through privatization of public utilities, such as water and sanitation (Prasad 2006, 669). Furthermore, France, England, and several sub-Saharan African countries have benefited from water privatization through, for instance, improvements in financial management increased access to water, and reduction of mortality rates from waterborne diseases (Adams and Halvorsen 2014, 37). Contrarily, opponents of private sector participation in water and sanitation services have been critical that these projects may have been driven instead by interests of multinational corporations who may be more concerned with maximizing profits rather than efficiently providing water to those who do not have sufficient access to it (Castro 2007, 756). Furthermore, they point out that water privatization increases costs and, as in the case in Bolivia, can lead to a decline in water quality (Adams and Halvorsen 2014, 37-38). From the 1990s onward, transnational financial institutions like the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have pressured developing countries such as Ghana to sell their urban water system to private sector companies (Agyeman 2007, 528). In 2005, the government of Ghana (GOG) signed a five-year contract with the firm Aqua Vitens Rand Water Ltd. This has not been extended, however, out of dissatisfaction with the inefficacy of water provision and lack of success (Ibid., 531-532). This essay will explore the involvement of the WB and the IMF in past urban water privatization projects in Ghana. It will argue that the Bretton Woods institutionsâ€™ loan conditions and water sector reform proposals including the privatization of the urban water supply service have been unfavorable for both the Ghanaian civil society and the GOG. In addition, this essay will focus on changes in urban water prices and supply coverage, corruption scandals during water privatization preparations, and Ghanaâ€™s disadvantageous dependency on these donor institutions. It will concentrate on the political, economic and social aspects of urban water privatization experiences. Other possible considerations, such as the ethics of the right to water or environmental dimensions, may be equally important for the discussion of the appropriateness of IMF and the WB participation in urban water privatization projects in Ghana; however, those are beyond the scope of this essay. A critical political economy approach will be adopted to investigate this case study. Political economy believes
in the interrelatedness of political, economic, and social processes and depicts markets as politically and socially constructed (Clift 2014, 1-38). This approach might help to grasp the Ghanaian urban water privatization experiences better – by including, for instance, an analysis of underlying power relationship between the transnational financial institutions and Ghanaians - and moves away from the mainstream neoclassical economic analysis framework which makes a technical “ceteris paribus ‘all other things being equal’ assumption to strip away social, historical and political context from the analysis of the ‘economic’” (Ibid., 1). Hence, moving beyond pure economic cost-benefit analysis might provide more in-depth insight into the developing countries’ experiences with policies stipulated by the Bretton Woods institutions and, more specifically, the urban water sector privatization projects in Ghana (Chitonge 2015, 6). First, it will be demonstrated that during the IMF and the WB involvement in urban water privatization projects, consumer fees for water have dramatically increased due to the implementation of their neoliberal policies which has been highly disadvantageous for the Ghanaian civil society (Amenga-Etego and Grusky 2005, 281). The increase in urban water prices was to be fully paid by the locals and was met with strong resentment and anger. For example, the WB’s Third Economic Reform Support Operation Credit for Ghanaloan conditions for the GOG “mandated a 95 per cent hike in consumer water rates” (Ibid., 281-282). These loan conditions are the legacy of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), which were based on neoliberal ideas and imposed on governments in developing countries, including Ghana, during the 1980s (Chitonge 2015, 23). They included specific free-market policies such as full cost recovery with the objective of reconstructing the Ghanaian urban water development sector to make it more lucrative on the international market (Amenga-Etego and Grusky 2005, 281). Full cost recovery has obligated Ghanaian citizens to pay the whole cost for the operation and maintenance of the water supply system, while at the same time, government subsidies for the water sector have been reduced or entirely cut to increase revenue (Ibid., 281). The IMF and the WB have justified these loan conditions by stating that “providing water for free or at very low (or heavily subsidized) tariffs has hampered investment in the sector due to low-cost recovery” (Agyeman 2007, 526). The consequence of their neoliberal water policies was that over half of the population of Ghana was not able to afford the market price for water anymore, which is especially concerning given that the IMF itself reports that “more than 50 per cent of the population earns less than US$1 a day” (Amenga-Etego and Grusky 2005, 281).
Second, the WB- and IMF-backed urban water privatization preparations may not only have led to an increase in water prices, which the majority of the Ghanaian population could not afford, but it may also have contributed to the decrease of urban water supply coverage. Rapid urbanization and population growth, particularly in the capital Accra, have resulted in a decrease of urban households that have access to piped water (Ibid., 283). Indeed, there has been an increase of 20,3 % of the proportion of the total population living in Ghanaian urban areas from 1965 to 2005 (Ainuson 2010, 59). Furthermore, the IMF and the WB loan conditions could have reinforced this process rather than combating it. Indeed, the Bretton Woods institutions, although noticing this concerning trend, have insisted on their neoliberal policies, such as reducing government subsidies at times when more public investment in the urban water and sanitation infrastructure may have been necessary to increase water pipeline coverage (Amenga-Etego and Grusky 2005, 283). As a result, it could be argued that the participation of these transnational financial institutions in urban water privatization projects in Ghana may have been disadvantageous to Ghanaian citizens as it has increased water costs and responded insufficiently and inappropriately to the decrease in urban water supply coverage. In fact, “the neoliberal dream of low-to-no tax and low-to-no regulation” followed by the IMF and WB may have been ill-suited for Ghanaians and unfit for Ghana’s political economy (Glennie 2008, 127). Third, the WB and the IMF involvement in urban water sector reforms may have been disadvantageous for Ghana in that these water privatization projects may have fostered corruption. Generally, “when large amounts of money start to swill around” due to, for example, foreign direct investment, development aid, or loans, African civil institutions and governments may become more corrupt due to the new incentives and opportunities (Glennie 2008, 128). This is also applicable to Ghana, where the specific loan conditions such as the Ghana Water Sector Restructuring Project from the WB, forced the GOG into water privatization negotiations with multinational companies, which were followed by corruption and bribery scandals, before it could receive a US$100 million loan (AmengaEtego and Grusky 2005, 278-282). One example of such a scandal was the first privatization attempt when several multinational companies were interested in winning the lease contract for the urban water sector in Ghana (Agyeman 2007, 530). After the negotiations between the GOG and the different international private sector companies began, the Enron subsidiary Azuris, which is now defunct, surprisingly won the contract (Ibid.). However, because the other competitors, Suez and Vivendi, complained about the unfair
competition, massive public protests and allegations arose, claiming that “Azuris gave US$5 million in kickbacks to key Ghanaian politicians” (Amenga-Etego and Grusky 2005, 278). After the investigations of possible corruption, the contract between Azuris and the GOG was disqualified (Ibid.). As a result, the water sector reform conditions included in the loans have forced the GOG to enter into contract negotiations with international private sector companies, which led to increased corruption scandals and public protests in Ghana. Finally, the WB- and IMF-backed proposal to privatize the Ghanaian urban water supply system might have forced Ghanaians into a disadvantageous dependence on donating institutions. Indeed, the loans from the IMF and the WB have come in exchange for conditions which receiving countries have had to fulfil (Goldman 2007, 794). Thus, the Bretton Woods institutions might have enforced their neoliberal policies and agenda on developing countries including Ghana. In 2001 for example “all 11 of the water and sanitation loans carried conditions that required borrowing governments to either privatize these services or dramatically increase cost recovery.” (Ibid.). Furthermore, these free-market policies have come “in the form of a threat” from the transnational financial institutions who use their authority to influence the GOG’s decision-making process on domestic issues (Ibid.). However, the enforcement of their neoliberal economic ideas might not speak to Ghanaians’ interests and needs but rather to the objectives of global capitalism (Yeboah 2006, 63). Ghana’s dependency on the WB’s and the IMF’s loans has not allowed the GOG to construct an effective national water policy. Hence, the history of the IMF and the WB interference in the (urban) water sector has shown the GOG’s willingness “to sacrifice sovereignty and culturally sensitive ways of doing things, to global capital, in exchange for development funds” (Ibid., 50). Another example of the GOG’s dependency on donor institutions could be the IMF and the WB loans like the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, which forced the GOG into contract negotiations with multinational companies or to increase the water tariffs in Ghana instead of giving Ghanaian politicians the chance to develop their own strategies and policies (Amenga-Etego and Grusky 2005, 282). In conclusion, the participation of the IMF and the WB in the urban water privatization projects in Ghana has been controversial and may have had adverse impacts on both the Ghanaian civil society and the effectiveness and independence of the GOG. With regards to the urban water prices and supply coverage, it can be observed that the Bretton Woods institutions might have been more interested in imposing a strict neoliberal
economic agenda rather than responding to the actual needs and demands of the Ghanaian population. The result was higher prices for urban water accompanied by decreased supply coverage, increased corruption sparked by the conditions of the loans, and subsequent increase in government distrust. In restructuring the urban water sector the financial institutions wanted to make it more attractive for international investors, but this may not have been in the best interest of Ghanaian citizens. Furthermore, the Bretton Woods institutions, in exchange for loans and funds, expected the GOG to introduce specific freemarket policies including the liberalization, deregulation, and privatization of their economy. Thus, the Bretton Woods institutions interfered in the domestic politics of Ghana and affected state sovereignty. Indeed, the Ghanaians have been driven into dependence and into an unbalanced and asymmetric relationship, which may not be favorable to them. Rather than enforcing a strict neoliberal agenda on the urban water sector, it may be essential to consider different economic models in order to account for diverging interests, such as of the Ghanaian locals, in the decision-making for the water sector. Water privatization, however, is not per se inefficient as successful cases have shown. Irrespective of whether the water sector in Ghana is managed from the public, private, or a mixed public-private sector, policymakers should consider the needs of the locals and regional characteristics to create a pragmatic and effective national water policy to ensure water security, quality, and accessibility by offering affordable water prices within the country.
Adams, Ellis A. and Kathleen E. Halvorsen. 2014. “Perceptions of Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Staff about Water Privatization in Developing Countries.” Human Geographies – Journal of Studies and Research in Human Geography 8, no. 2: 35-49. Agyeman, K. 2007. “Privatisation of water in Ghana: stopped in its tracks or a strategic pause?” International Journal of Environmental Studies 64, no. 5: 525-536. Ainuson, Kweku G. 2010. “Urban Water Politics and Water Security in Disadvantaged Urban Communities in Ghana.” African Studies Quarterly 11, no. 4: 59-82. Amenga-Etego, Rudolf N. and Sara Grusky. 2005. “The New Face of Conditionalities: The World Bank and Water Privatisation in Ghana.” In The Age of Commodity: Water Privatization in Southern Africa, edited by David A. McDonald and Greg Ruiters, 275291. London: Earthscan. Castro, José E. 2007. “Poverty and citizenship: Sociological perspectives on water services and public-private participation.” Geoforum 38, no. 5: 756-771. Chitonge, Horman. 2015. Economic Growth and Development in Africa. Understanding Trends and Prospects. Abingdon & New York: Routledge. Clift,
Capitalism.Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Glennie, Jonathan. 2008. The Trouble with aid. Why less could mean more for Africa. London & New York: Zed Books. Goldman, Michael. 2007. “How ‘Water for All!’ policy became hegemonic: The power of the World Bank and its transnational policy networks.” Geoforum 38, no. 5: 786-800. Prasad, Naren. 2006. “Privatisation Results: Private Sector Participation in Water Services after 15 years.” Development Policy Review 24, no. 6: 669-692. Yeboah, Ian. 2006. “Subaltern strategies and development practice: urban water privatization in Ghana.” The Geographical Journal 172, no. 1: 50-65.
Abstract. Despite growing efforts, historiography narrating the active role of women in important historical events is largely underdeveloped—a problem that is especially pervasive in the historiographies of countries that are traditionally interpreted to have strong patriarchal cultures. As a case-study in the historiography of anti-colonialist nation-building, this paper identifies that the reason for the underrepresentation of women in specifically the Egyptian economy during the years of British rule is two-fold: women are excluded both because of “insider” as well as “outsider” forces—and that at once this economic exclusion of women was instrumentalized to prevent but also to further Egyptian national independence. Islamic Feminism played an important role in constructing a counter-narrative and providing agency to women in the construction of the independent Egyptian nation-state, and can be taken to inspire a more intersectional approach for wider global(ist) feminist movements today. Key words. Gender, Colonialism, MENA, Political Economy, Islam.
ne of the omnipresent but ill-informed narratives about the Middle East is that Middle Eastern women are home-makers—they do not work and are not allowed outside by their barbaric husbands. Many statistics about the economic makeup of
Middle Eastern and North African countries purport the notion of passivity when it comes to female economic participation in the region: women are largely under-represented in the data both on work force and participation rate (Larson in Lobban 1998, 148). This, however, is a problematic and inadequate image of a more complex reality. As Badran (1995, 166) states in her work Feminists, Islam and Nation: Gender and the Making of Modern Egypt, “(…) the vast majority of women in Egypt had always worked.” An important movement to understand in this regard is that of Islamic Feminism. Islamic feminism, as described by Halverson and Way (508) is “[…] a global movement of Muslim activists and scholars that affirms the equality of men and women under Islam by challenging and refuting traditional patriarchal or androcentric readings of the Qur’an and Hadith […].” Thus, Islamic Feminism is comprised of those civil society activists, politicians and policymakers alike who work towards achieving socio-economic equity of the sexes within the context of Islam and in the predominantly Islamic nation-states, specifically in the region of the Middle East and North Africa. It combines the global(ist) feminist sentiment of antipatriarchal efforts with an intrinsic understanding of the cultural specifics and - intricacies of the geo-politics of the region. This argumentative paper will dissect the way in which Islamic feminism has reacted to the restriction of participation of women in the Egyptian labour market more specifically in the years of the British colonial era (generally understood to be the period of 1882- 1952) to the end of uncovering the politics behind this economic exclusion. This paper further examines why and how women are oftentimes excluded from the labour force or it’s statistical representation in economic data, and how forces from within Islamic feminist movements in Egypt have tried to counter this trend. Firstly, the establishment of the British protectorate in Egypt, that started in 1882 and ended in 1952, caused a sense of cultural and economic schizophrenia along gendered lines in Egypt
(Cleveland and Bunton 2013, 282). On the one hand, “[t]he colonial state
minimized the training of Egyptian women and thus their possibilities for employment, while at the same time it introduced British women into the labour force in the fields of education and health, precisely those fields in which Egyptian women had begun to make headway” (Badran 1995, 165). In practice, this entailed that British women, who came to Egypt during that time, slowly but surely started to fill jobs that had previously been
available to or even occupied by Egyptian women. However, because of the imposed restrictions on the training of Egyptian women, they were unable to continue in that line. In this way, the British administration pro-actively created both demand and incentives for British citizens to work in the newly established protectorate. As a result, British women benefited from the imposed colonial economic policies, whereas indigenous Egyptian women were deliberately kept unskilled and unemployed - a condition that has played an important role in creating and upholding contemporary stereotypes about Arab women. Juxtaposingly, however, along with this mechanism of exclusion imposed by "outsider" forces (i.e. the British colonizers), a second mechanism of socio-economic exclusion of women can be identified. This exclusion was initiated domestically, particularly by the nationalist anti-colonial groups within Egyptian society, thus by “insiders”. Male nationalists of the educated Egyptian elite viewed women’s roles in two distinct ways. Progressives, who were mainly from the upper and more secular social strata of Egyptian society, advocated new societal roles for women as a necessity for national liberation. This included a firm place within the nation-state's workforce and more independence. Conservatives, however, typically from the more modest middle class, insisted that women’s “true roles”—that is, their “culturally authentic roles” as Muslims and Egyptians—were those of wife, mother, and homemaker, and that challenging these roles was a form of colonialist subversion. Conservative [Egyptian national] patriarchal forces unwittingly ‘colluded’ with the colonialist adversary in keeping Egyptian women out of the workforce. This gave British women freer rein to impose what Nabawiyah Musa called the “second colonization’'(Ibid., 166). Badran (1995) points out that it was thus not merely the active role of the British colonizers that kept the Egyptian women at home, unskilled and unemployed, but that, in addition, the domestic patriarchal structure in the Egyptian society itself was to blame too. Framing the role of women in nationalist terms, and thereby pressuring them to stay at home, had the unintentional effect of serving the British aim of keeping (at least) half of the Egyptian nation unskilled and unfit for independence. It was exactly this alternative framing of female engagement with the labour force of the nation as a historical, religious and cultural issue (rather than a purely economic one) that allowed this same narrative and politics of power to enter into the hegemonic nationalist culture and narrative. In other words, women who engaged in official and paid work would be disregarded by the nationalist narratives and movements for being irreligious and/or ‘un-Egyptian.’ This narrative was then abused by the British
colonizers to the end of creating a situation in which it was culturally accepted to keep half of the population, the women, dependent of the other half— and in a larger sense: keeping large proportions of Egyptian women unable to become economically independent would also prevent the Egyptian nation as a whole from achieving (economic) independence, and thus female unemployment became a key component of
the stability of the British
occupation. An example of an industry in which this replacement of Egyptian (female) workers by British workers occurred most clearly is the health care sector. First, the British liberalised the Egyptian health care sector and immediately afterwards brought in European doctors to practise medicine and earn money in the protectorate, leaving a proportion of the Egyptian female workforce unemployed and leaving an even bigger portion of the Egyptian population unable to access affordable health care (Inhorn 1994 as cited in Lobban 1998, 117). These politics of both actively creating as well as purporting nationalist narratives of exclusion of women from the workforce have contributed to a large extent to the absence of women in the data on Egyptian labour statistics of the time. Islamic feminists, such as the well-known and praised Nabawiyyah Musa, one of the key Egyptian feminists of the 20th century, reacted to these politics by proposing an influential counter-narrative: she claimed that “If women do not work, half the nation’s resources are neglected” (Badran 1995, 167). She then goes on to argue that “[a]t a time when we make a great effort to win our political independence, why do we lag behind in fighting for our economic independence while we have the means in our hands?” Yet, this sentiment would only later be spread more widely among well-educated Egyptians, and even later become of global importance in economic thought. Secondly, and this applies to many more of the Middle Eastern and North African economies, Egyptian women tended and still tend to be employed disproportionately more often in the informal economy rather than the formal economy (Larson as cited in Lobban 1998, 148). In addition, there is also a “[…] growing awareness that women’s contributions to the economy are frequently overlooked, underestimated and undervalued. Nowhere is this more true than in the Middle East and North Africa, where women’s official participation in the economy is one of the lowest in the world […]” (Ibid.). It is this combination, of the woman as an essentialized and uniformly generalized subject that is portrayed as unemployed and unskilled in national economic data, with a reality in which women work and perform all sorts of tasks that are traditionally oftentimes linked to household activities or duties (this can extent to for example working in the family
business or taking care of other people's children in the neighbourhood among other occupations). However, as this work falls outside the narrow, neoliberal figuration which holds that work can only be work if it is monetarily compensated, the numbers perpetuate the narrative of the often submissive positionality of the woman in the Egyptian labour force. Again, the politics of culturally gendered essentialism that left many women unschooled or untrained, as these women were seen as unfit to perform jobs that were meant to be executed by men in order to adhere to the national narrative and be included in the framework of the independent patriotic nation-state. A common way for women to work around this cultural alienation when, despite the stigmatization, entering the formal work force was and is by re-framing their core intention for going to work: “[w]omen articulate their financial contribution to the household as their main motivation for entering the labour market. […] The prevalence of this attitude was encouraged by the deep-seated ideology of family and expected selflessness of individuals, particularly the mothers, for the collective interest of the family” (Hoodfar as cited in Redclift and Sinclair 1991, 111). Islamic feminists have used these sentiments of caring for the family and selflessness as arguments to encourage more women to enter the labour market, as, according to many scholars of Islamic studies, it is indeed the duty of the woman to take care of the family and it is the duty of any good Muslim to be selfless and look out for others. It is in this way that Islamic feminists have succeeded in combining the realms of Islam with that of feminism: it is to do with the intersection of the strictly feminist notions of the emancipation of the subject of the woman and the furthering of her independent positionality in a socio-economic context on the one hand, and the integration of purely Islamic fundamental principles such as the aforementioned caring for others, selflessness and taking care of a strong familial bonding on the other hand . In other words, as Cooke (2001, 59) states that Islamic feminism is to do with “[…] women’s jockeying for space and power through the construction and manipulation of apparently incompatible, contradictory identities and positions.”. However, when women did finally enter the labour market in larger numbers, after having had to deal with all of these obstacles, many of them still decided to enter the informal labour market. As Larson (as cited in Lobban 1998, 163) writes: “[t]hough women are barely present in the formal statistics on labour participation, many are economically active – mostly in the informal sector.” It is thus because “these activities are seen as extensions of the housewife role” that they were generally culturally accepted, but not officially registered and thus invisible in official
national data on economic activity, leading to the skewed image of the passive Egyptian woman.
In conclusion, this essay has argued that the two main reasons for a marked underrepresentation of women in Egyptian labour market statistics during the era of Egypt as a British protectorate are a) British colonizers who abused socio-cultural narratives and structures produced by a specific group of Egyptian society, and b) a large proportion of Egyptian women were (for a multitude of reasons) active in the informal economy rather than the formal economy. Islamic feminist movements have tried – sometimes successfully and other times less so—to counter these narratives by claiming spaces and power in times of politics of exclusion and dependence. This was achieved by intertwining some core Islamic ideas with widely supported sentiments such as the longing
independence, emancipation and progress of their individual and collective subject. Thus, in Egypt in particular, “[…] this [feminist] activism was inextricably linked with the struggle against colonialism” (Durac and Cavatorta 2015, 190).
Badran, Margot. 1995. Feminists, Islam, and Nation: Gender and the Making of Modern Egypt. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Cammett, Melani, Ishac Diwan, John Waterbury, and Alan Richards, ed. 2015. A Political Economy of the Middle East. Boulder: Westview Press. Cleveland, William L., and Martin P. Bunton. 2013. A History of the Modern Middle East. Colorado: Westview Press. Cooke, Miriam. 2001. Women Claim Islam: Creating Islamic Feminism through Literature. New York: Routledge. Durac, Vincent and Francesco Cavatorta. 2015. Politics and Governance in the Middle East. London: Palgrave. Hanieh, Adam. 2013. Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East. Chicago: Haymarket Books. Halverson, Jeffry R., and Amy K. Way. 2011. "Islamist feminism: Constructing gender identities in postcolonial Muslim societies." Politics and Religion 4, no. 3: 503-525. Loban, Richard. 1998. Middle Eastern Women and the Invisible Economy. Florida: University Press of Florida. Redclift and Sinclair. 1991. Working Women: International Perspectives on Labour and Gender Ideology. London: Routledge.
Abstract. Widespread conceptions of the French civil service address the bureaucracy’s influence and the lack of reform at its highest heights. From the last half-century up until now, the French public sector’s inflexibility is said to be the foremost obstacle to change, yet what is the extent of these claims? This article argues that the very source of the top-level civil servants, the National School of Administration (ÉNA), is partly the key to understanding the absence of perceived reform in the civil service. Its selection process and influence fosters attitudes amongst its graduates that can be considered relatively undemocratic and unethical. Through an analysis of the ÉNA’s structure, as well as the influence and actions of its graduates, this article hope to generate an understanding on certain truths about the French civil service and the scarcity of reform at its upper-level. Key words. French Bureaucracy, Public Administration, Elitism, Accountability, Reform
popular assumption of the French civil service is that its bureaucrats in its highest tiers are almost exclusively drawn from l’École Nationale d’Administration (National School of Administration, ÉNA). These bureaucrats (colloquially known
as énarques) are extremely specialized in their fields and form the backbone of the French
government’s various ministries (Howarth and Varouxakis 2014, 30). Over the years however, problems and criticisms began to arise on the subject of ÉNA and its system. Among them, the accessibility of the school due to its selective and rigorous concours which, according to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, completely removes all pretenses of ÉNA attempting to democratize access to public administration (Bourdieu and Passeron 1964, 103). These changes will be explored further in depth as this essay attempts to answer to what extent has the influence of ÉNA graduates hindered reform in the upper-tiers of French administration? This dissertation starts with the establishment of a theoretical framework that will underpin the arguments of this essay. Secondly, it goes into further depth on the ÉNA and its structure, studying the criticisms on its selection process and elitism. Thirdly, it investigates the ethical issues that permeate French public administration and finally, examines if pertinent and constructive reforms can occur in spite of the aforementioned points.
The main corpus of theory underlying this essay is Weber’s Theory on Bureaucracy. In his discussions on modernization and rationality, Weber stated that the maximization and focus on efficiency and effectiveness will ultimately lead to a dominance of legal authority, entrenched constitutionally, rather than traditional or charismatic authority (Udy 1959, 791). Due to the prevalence of legal authority, Weber enumerates a set of elements that would make the ‘Ideal Type’ of bureaucratic administration. These elements include but are not limited to: a clearly defined and strict hierarchy of offices, a merit system in which candidates are chosen and promoted according to their skills, and politically-neutral officials completely removed from the political sphere (Ibid., 792). Weber supported a thorough divide between politics and administration. The choices and decisions are made by elected politicians and the execution must be enacted without prejudice by civil servants. However, due to the very nature of society and administration, bureaucratic power is in constant need to expand, which in turn serves as a threat to democracy. Bureaucracy will inevitably turn into a larger entity that is more knowledgeable and specialized than the average group of politicians, who are therefore unable to control it completely (De Vries 2016, 88). Weber pessimistically describes this inevitability as the ‘Iron Cage’ which goes against liberal values at all levels and ultimately severely limits individual freedom (Ibid., 91). If politicians are supposed to limit bureaucratization, what happens when the realms of politics and bureaucracy are so deeply intertwined? The ÉNA is a state-funded school
with the French government retaining an important influence over the institution. However, the school’s graduates are both in the highest tiers of administration and politics. This, as Bourdieu stresses, causes the reproduction of a certain type of culture and beliefsystem that perhaps constitutes an explanation of the failures of past reform attempts (Bourdieu and Passeron 1964, 106-107).
In the aftermath of World War Two, the restored French government faced major criticisms to its legitimacy. Indeed, much of the administration of the newly formed Fourth Republic was still largely composed of bureaucrats that were previously in the collaborative Vichy government. Trust in bureaucrats and the central government was at an all-time low (Howarth and Varouxakis 2014, 52). One of the first objectives of the new government was to create a new administrative school that would form apolitical bureaucrats and do away with the previous administration. It was with these goals in mind that the French government announced in 1945 the formation of the ÉNA. Throughout the entirety of its existence, the school has formed bureaucrats that have been the backbone of the central government’s administration. The function of the ÉNA was to democratize access to the higher tiers of civil service, alongside standardizing the processes through which future bureaucrats would be educated (Ibid., 53). In terms of democratizing access, this was initially accomplished by organizing arduous entrance exams (concours) which would only allow the best to enter the school – regardless of their social background (Ibid., 52-53). The concours themselves have a deeply rooted historical background in France, having been implemented by revolutionaries in order to combat the nepotism of the Ancien Régime through rigorous but formally neutral examinations that would assess personal qualities over birthright (Van Zanten and Maxwell 2015, 71-72). The education system is the basis of French bureaucracy, which in turn fuels the ÉNA’s legitimacy. However, more recently, this system has accrued criticisms, with scholars arguing that meritocracy is nothing more than an “institutional ‘myth’” (Ibid., 74), promoted by elite educational institutions and the state in order to maintain their validity and influence. More worryingly, dominant groups in society are seeking to protect their own elite status, with the paths towards an elite education becoming increasingly closed off since the 1980s (Ibid., 81). One such path is through prépas, a system of post-secondary school education that serve to give students the means to access France’s grandes écoles – the most prestigious and elite higher-education establishments. Upper-class families seek
more and more to place their children in prépas that are seen as more “intellectually demanding and the most socially selective” by carefully curating their children’s home education – doing so through private tuition and extracurricular activities (Ibid.). Alongside this, prépas’ selection panel members have been noted to make generalizations about students that come from lycées that are ethnically and socially diverse, judging the teachers there to be ‘overindulgent’, whereas students with similar grades but are from lycées in neighborhoods with middle to upper-class families will be more often than not favored in the selection process (Ibid., 81). These difficulties are the reasons why the proportion of working-class students that have been go through the elite tracks in France have remained quite low over the past few decades (Ibid., 79-80). Amongst these institutions, the ÉNA exemplifies best this problem, being the subject to significant media attention and criticism (Lequesne and Chopin 2019). Examining the subject of ÉNA graduates in more depth, Dogan argues that they cannot qualify as a ‘ruling class’ due to their relatively limited tenure in power and lack of hereditary transfer of roles (Dogan 2003, 78). However, the social reproduction theory put forward by Bourdieu states that, nevertheless, the elite educational institutions ensure the reproduction of a certain societal point-of-view that dominates the state and the uppertiers of the French civil service (Bourdieu and Passeron 1964, 11-12). This ultimately ensures the supremacy of a dominant culture at the highest levels of administration in spite of a missing ‘ruling class’. Research into the ÉNA and other grandes écoles demonstrate the dominance of a specific background that constitute the majority of students. They are usually from urban centers, predominately Paris (Larat 2015, 106). The highest density of students having parents either be senior executives in private or public organizations (39.6% of external applicants in 1989) amongst other high-paying or social prestigious occupations (Bellier 1990, 44). Students from more modest origins are allowed to be a part of this group, granted that they conform to the norms and values of the administrative elite (Bellier 1992, 107). These numbers have admittedly gotten worse in the 21st century, with 52.6%/35.6% of ENA students having father and mother respectively be senior public/private executives or educators, with similar proportions to 1989 for the rest of society (Larat 2015, 110). The grands corps have long played a role in the inequality within the French civil service. Upon graduation, the énarques are placed into certain corps based on their rankings – Ministry of Finance being the most prestigious while Labor and Education are considered
to be the least (Berg 2011, 142). Combined, the most important corps constitute the grands corps which is, in essence, a close-knit network of upper-tier civil servants that provides advantages and opportunities throughout the career of an énarque. It is also worth noting that four out of the Fifth Republic’s eight Presidents have been graduates from the ÉNA. This solidarity between bureaucrats exists due to the vilification of the grands corps which isolates the énarques, causing a divide between them and the rest of society (Bellier 1992, 122).
The French public administration suffers from longstanding problems that started appearing following the instauration of the Fifth Republic in the late 1950s. Most notably, there are two deeply intertwined issues: politicization and accountability. In the Weberian ideal-type of bureaucracy, politics and administration are distinctly separated. However, thirty years after the creation of the ÉNA, administration and politics became increasingly tangled together, with the higher civil service playing a stronger role in “top-level government policy making, social reforms, and economic development” (Quermonne and Rouban 1986, 398). The Fifth Republic promulgated the appearance of ‘technicalministers’: ministers that have had a long career in the upper civil service but never held a parliamentary position. Prior to the Fifth Republic the practice was non-existent, however successive governments have had similar proportions of ‘technical-ministers’: 37% under De Gaulle, and up to 34% and 30% for Giscard d’Estaing and Mitterrand respectively (Ibid.). Additionally, the number of ministers with parliamentary seats but formerly from the civil service has historically reached high levels, going up to 65.5% in 1974 (Ibid.). The ‘grands corps’ have smoothed the transition from the administration into politics. Former énarques civil servants-turned-politicians started placing peers with similar political affiliations into their ministerial cabinets, an important stepping stone for a future political career (Berg 2011, 142). This has to lead to the “politicization of higher civil servants and a ‘bureaucratization’ of political leaders” (Quermonne and Rouban 1986, 399). With Weber’s ideal type of bureaucracy endangered by the close ties between politics and administration, what tools do politicians hold in order to hold the civil service accountable? Evaluating tools are faced with significant issues that limit their capacity for a neutral audit to impartially audit the administration. Parliament, theoretically the organ that holds the bureaucracy accountable, gets its auditing information from the civil service, and not from independent bodies (Ibid., 402). Under the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, Parliament
has reduced powers compared to the executive, and with the civil service having a strong influence in Ministries, this has rendered the legislative almost powerless in the face of the bureaucracy (Howarth and Varouxakis 2014, 50-51). Alongside this, is the fact that organs for policy evaluation were developed internally within the public service with the goal to “reinforce hierarchical monitoring and to strengthen the power of administrative officers” (Quermonne and Rouban 1986, 400). There are external organs known as the Autorités Administratives Indépendantes (AAIs) that hold the administration accountable. However, despite being independent from the responsibility of the government, they are staffed by the civil servants and are a part of the national administration, making their ability to contain bureaucratic dominance rather limited as they themselves are a part of the bureaucracy (Berg 2011, 152). Another issue plaguing the civil service is the practice known as pantouflage, which is when a high-ranking public servant departs from their position to go work in the private sector (Howarth and Varouxakis 2014, 53), ÉNA graduates are especially known for these career shifts. Unfortunately, the French state itself is largely indifferent to the practice. Conversely, the practice occurs at end of a bureaucrat’s service at which point it is largely justified as the need for a second career and gain more responsibilities, usually in the realm of finance (Rouban 2010, 25). This even translates to instances in which individuals that have left the public sector for a private sector position, later returning to the higher tiers of the civil service at the behest of the government (Ibid., 28-29). These cause issues of accountability, with civil servants have access to far more mobility in spite of mistakes that may occur in one’s career. They jump from the civil service to a private enterprise, then reenter the service as a ministerial director, and eventually moving onto a career in politics. Young bureaucrats now make the choice earlier, choosing between to branch into either politics or the private sector after their obligatory tenure in the administration (Berg 2011, 164).
This essay has looked at the ÉNA and the influence of its graduates within the higher French civil service, alongside the problems of accountability and political neutrality within the French administration. With politics having become ‘bureaucratized’, the reforms that have occurred in the last few decades are far and few between. Attempts at reforms are focused on limiting the impact of the grands corps within the civil service. One such attempt was to end the system by which ÉNA graduates were assigned to specific corps. Customarily,
ÉNA graduates are ranked based on the results of their final exam with the best assigned to the most prestigious corps. The reform failed to abolish this system, which would have drastically reduced the influence and the privileges of the grands corps, due to énarques at all levels of the administrative and political spectrum protesting against the reform (Ibid., 155). A public sector reform that has succeeded was the abolition of the wage gap between civil servants of the grands corps and the remainder of the central administration. Even between énarques, bureaucrats that belonged to the grands corps had up to a 20% top-up to their salary (Ibid.). The early 2000s saw the end of these wage discrepancies but was unfortunately immediately countered by another reform in 2003 that introduced performance bonuses for senior civil servants (Ibid.). Interestingly, the most pertinent reforms on the civil service have come from the necessities to adapt to the membership within the European Union. Many attempts at ‘modernizing’ the traditionally hierarchical French system came after having compared the national administration with other European countries. This comparison stimulated the need to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the French public sector (Ibid., 157). When discussing reforms in the civil service, it is predominantly focused on the lower tiers of administration rather than the upper-tiers. The implementation of the New Public Management (NPM) reforms that took France by storm between 2002-2007 were largely targeted at the lower tiers, leaving the grands corps free from having to deal with increased competitiveness and new managerial style of NPM (Rouban 2013, 171). The most striking feature of these reforms was the fact that the grands corps were at the heart of its policy and decision-making process, proudly hoisting the banner of NPM (Ibid., 172). The managerial reform was implemented by conservative elites of the grands corps who sought to expand their powers at the expense of the rest of the administration (Ibid.). Rouban (Ibid., 173) argues that the reform successfully drove a line between what the elite considers to be the ‘real’ civil service (the grands corps: Finance, Justice, Security, etc.) from the ‘employees’ of the state that are in charge of education, welfare and labor. This demarcation perhaps explains why the necessary political power to reform the general administration is less important what is necessary to change the higher civil service. Ultimately, the managerial reform of 2007 did not do much in changing the balance of power within the French public administration. This is partly due to the presence of former bureaucrats at top-levels of decision-making who will not dismantle the very structures that brought them to their positions (Gervais 2010, 438). This is combined with their loyalty to the grands corps that drives them to
oppose all those that do not belong to that select group of individuals (Bellier 1990, 61-62). Pyun and Lallemand (2014, 79-80) examined the wider public’s viewpoint on the civil service. They found that public assumptions of the public sector (not effective, lagging behind to the rest of society and needing to be changed) have stayed the same since the 1980s, in spite of the fact that there have been reforms in local and central administration since then. They conclude that public perceptions have not changed due to the public’s collective memory of the civil service. The latter’s overall structure has remained largely the same, therefore enacted reforms will not affect the French population’s understanding and perception on the civil service (Ibid., 86).
The initial thesis question asks if the nature of bureaucrats has led to reform within the French civil service. The answer is that due to the nature of bureaucrats and the French bureaucratic apparatus, meaningful reforms that strike at the heart of the inequalities between the different tiers of the public sector have been almost impossible. There is hope that clamor for reform may come from the external influences of the European Union which, for the last two decades, have displayed the inherent issues of the recruitment and structure of the French civil service due to the cooperation with other, more efficient and democratic national administrations that exist in Europe. The nature of European institutions and the collaboration required between different national civil services have shed light on the problems of inefficiency and obsolescence in the French public administration (Berg 2011, 157). Additionally, the EU’s regulations may do a better job at holding the civil service accountable than the French government’s own tools (Rouban 1997, 99). In recent news, President Macron announced the dissolution of the ÉNA as part of his project to reduce social inequalities in France. What remains to be seen is whether this will signify an important step in sustainably tackling bureaucratic reforming or if the tracks to the upper-ranks of the civil service will be replaced by another of the grandes écoles (such as Sciences-Po).
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The first edition of Medusa, the Leiden University Journal of Undergraduate Research. Launched June 2, 2019.